China Looks to Launch Tiangong-1 Space Station By End of 2010

China's Tiangong-1 space laboratory with a Shenzhou spacecraft approaching it. (Credit: CNSA)
China's Tiangong-1 space laboratory with a Shenzhou spacecraft approaching it. (Credit: CNSA)

Chinese officials have said that they plan to launch their Tiangong-1 space station by the end of next year or in 2011, according to a report on CCTV.

Qi Faren, Shenzhou-5 designer, said, “Quality is the key to technology. We must guarantee a successful launch. We will launch it whenever we are ready. It will be the end of 2010, or the beginning of 2011.”

Tiangong-1 will be an 8- ton orbital module. Artists concepts show it to be somewhat similar to the early Soviet Salyut space stations. Crews of the Shenzhou 8, Shenzhou 9 and Shenzhou 10 spacecraft will conduct experiments aboard it during a 2-year period. The Shenzhou are based on Soviet-era Soyuz vehicles, which are still in use today.

The Chinese plan to fly several Tiangong stations, each with enhancements. Eventually, Tiangong will be modified to serve as a core module for a much larger facility, as was done with the Soviet Mir facility and the International Space Station.

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