China unveils new space station "Heavenly Palace"



The crowds at China's Air Show gathered around the cylindrical module representing the living and working quarter of Tiangong – or the "Heavenly Palace" – a replica of its first permanent crew space station

Posted 20:04, 06.11.2018

Updated 20:04, 06.11.2018

YUHANGYUANS. The Taikonaut model is featured at the top of a partial Chinese space station model at the China 2018 Air Show in Zhuhai on November 6, 2018. Photo by Wang Zhao / AFP

YUHANGYUANS. The Taikonaut model is featured at the top of a partial Chinese space station model at the China 2018 Air Show in Zhuhai on November 6, 2018. Photo by Wang Zhao / AFP

ZHUHAI, China – China, on Tuesday 6 November, presented a replica of its first permanent space crew station, replacing the international community's circulatory laboratory, and symbolizing the country's major ambitions outside the Earth.

The seven-millimeter core module was the star of the two-year China air show show in the southern coastal city of Zhuhai, the country's main aviation industry.

Outside, the Chinese J-10 fighter and fighter J-20 worshiped the audience as they grew in the Zhuhai sky. Inside, a fleet of drones and other military equipment appeared in the country.

The crowds gathered around a cylindrical space station module representing the Tiangong Living and Working Quarter – or the "Heavenly Palace" – which will also have two other modules for scientific experiments, and will be equipped with solar panels.

Three astronauts will be permanently located in a laboratory around 60 tons, allowing the crew to conduct biological and microgravite research.

The construction should be completed around 2022 and the station should last approximately 10 years.

International Space Station – Cooperation between the United States, Russia, Canada, Europe and Japan – has been in operation since 1998, but should be retired in 2024.

China will have the only space station in orbit, although it will be much smaller than the ISS, which weighs 400 tons and is as big as a football pitch.

The billions spent

In May, the country announced that the laboratory would be open to "all countries" to conduct scientific experiments.

"There is no doubt that China will use its station in a similar way to ISS partners using their base: research, technology and as a springboard for space exploration," said Chen Lan, an analyst at GoTaikonauts.com, a website dedicated to the Chinese Space Program.

Research institutes, universities, public and private companies have been invited to design projects. According to the state media, approximately 40 plans from 27 countries and regions were adopted.

The European Space Agency has sent cosmonauts to China to get in training to be ready to work inside the Chinese space station once it is launched.

"I'm sure China will be successful in developing partnerships over the years," said Bill Ostrove, a space analyst with the US-based forecasting firm Forecast International.

"Many countries and increasingly private companies and universities have space programs, but they can not afford to build their own space station," he said.

"The ability to save payload and experiments on the human space platform is extremely valuable."

Beijing pours billions into a military space program and plans to send people to the Moon in the near future.

Referring to China as a threat, US President Donald Trump has launched plans to create a new "cosmic force" to control his country over rivals in the universe.

Different spatial market

But the Chinese space program has encountered some flaws.

The space lab, called Tiangong-1, fell apart as it plunged back to Earth in early April, two years after it ceased to work.

The Chinese authorities denied that the laboratory – which was placed in orbit in September 2011 as a test site for a station – was out of control.

The second laboratory, Tiangong-2, was put into orbit in 2016.

"Despite much talk about the opposite, the United States remains the most dominant power in the universe," Island said.

"The most likely scenario for the future is that China will become one of the largest cosmic powers," he said.

But Russia, the European Space Agency, Japan and India will continue to play a "major role" in exploring the universe, while private companies are becoming more and more important in the sector, he added.

"The space market is becoming more and more diverse," he said, "so it will be hard for one or two countries or businesses to master the field as the US and the Soviet Union did during the Cold War." – Rappler.com


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