China to launch ‘core module’ for space station around 2018

Beijing—China will launch a “core module” for its first space station some time around 2018, a senior official told the state-run Xinhua news agency on Thursday, part of a plan to have a permanent manned space station in service around 2022.
Advancing China’s space program is a priority for Beijing, with President Xi Jinping calling for the country to establish itself as a space power. The “core module” for the space station will be called the “Tianhe-1”, the Chinese word for galaxy or Milky Way, Wang Zhongyang, spokesman for the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp, told Xinhua.
“Two space labs will be launched later and dock with the core module, ‘Tianhe-1,’” he said. “The construction of the space station is expected to finish in 2022.”
Wang added, “If the International Space Station, which has extended its service, is retired by 2024, China’s new space station will be the only operational one in outer space.”
In a manned space mission in 2013, three Chinese astronauts spent 15 days in orbit and docked with an experimental space laboratory, the Tiangong (Heavenly Palace) 1.
This year, China will launch the Tiangong 2 and Shenzhou 11 spacecraft, which will carry two astronauts and dock with Tiangong 2, Xinhua added. Next year, China’s first cargo ship, Tianzhou 1, will attempt to dock with Tiangong 2, it said.—Xinhua

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