China alone to have space station by 2024
China will be the only country to have a space station in service in 2024 as the International Space Station currently in service would retire by then, a Chinese space official said on Friday.
When the International Space Station retires in 2024, China’s space station may be the only one left in service, Lei Fanpei, chairman of China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp. (CASC) said.
China recently successfully launched a second experimental space lab. Two astronauts were expected to join the lab later this month for month long stay and experiments.
The main lab was expected to be ready by 2022.
China plans to launch the experimental core module of its space station around 2018 with a Long March-5 heavy load carrier rocket, and the 20 tonne combination space station will be sent into orbit around 2022, Lei was quoted as saying by state-run Xinhua news agency.
China’s space station will include a core module and two lab modules, with ports that will allow multiple spacecraft to dock, Lei said. After that, a manned spacecraft and cargo spacecraft will travel between the space station and the Earth to provide supplies.
Taikonauts, a Chinese astronaut, can stay at the space station for over one year. The space station has a designed life of 10 years in orbit 400 km above the earth surface.
With this space station, China will become the second country after Russia to have developed a space station, Lei said. China in 1992 made a three-step strategy for its manned space program, the large-scale manned space station being the last step.