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    China’s Space Station “Heavenly Palace”

    Artist impression of the future Chinese Space Station. Credit: CMSA
    China is preparing to build a new space station “Heavenly Palace”. A total of 11 missions are to be carried out in 2 years duration to assemble China’s space station in space. The selection process of astronauts or taikonauts has also been started for the project.

    The first module of the Chinese space station is scheduled to be launched next year, said Zhou Jianping, chief designer of China’s human spaceflight program. The launch of the main Tianhe core module on Long March 5B will take place in early 2021 at Wenchang. The mission would be followed by a crewed Shenzhou flight from Jiuquan along with Tianzhou cargo mission. The two experiment modules would be then launched to dock with Tianhe.

    A total of 11 launches will take place to complete the construction of china’s space station by around 2023. Apart from the core module, there would be two experimental modules along with 4 crewed spacecraft and 4 cargo ships. The extensive missions are laid down following the successful test flight of Long March 5B heavy-lift rocket May 5. The launches will take place using Long March 5B, Long March 7 and Long March 2F vehicles.

    Chain’s space agency  CNSA will be launching Tianwen-1 Mars mission in July this year and Chang’s-5 lunar mission before proceeding with the space station launch missions. China’s space station will host three astronauts for six months periodically. The 66-metric-ton space station will be used for experiments including international projects in the field of biotechnology, microgravity combustion, fluid physics, space medicine, astronomy and other space technologies.

    The space station will be put in orbit between 340-450 kilometres for a minimum of 10 years. The inclination of the station will be 43 degrees to allow launches to and fro from Gobi Desert. If needed, the station can also be expended up to six modules. A space telescope will also be launched after the completion of configuration.

    “Its resolution ratio will be equivalent to the well-known Hubble telescope, but its field angle will be 300 times larger than the Hubble telescope. With it, we can finish the survey of large areas in space in 10 years,” said Zhou, chief designer of human spaceflight program. Read further report on space.

    Astronaut or Taikonaut Selection for China’s Space Station

    A batch of astronauts will be selected in July, said astronaut Wang Yaping. A total of 18 new astronauts will be selected which will include both men and women. Civilians will also be selected to bring expertise in scientific experiments. The astronauts from previous batches of the 1990s and 2010 are undergoing training of neutral buoyancy for space station missions and vehicular activities.

    The opening of a fresh batch of astronauts was first announced in 2017. However, the project got delayed due to the failure of the second Long March 5 resulting in postponing the Chinese space station program.

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