Chinese Space Station Construction Start Slips to 2019 as Refueling Test Succeeds

China will begin constructing a permanent space station in orbit beginning in 2019, which is a delay from the original 2018 start date. The announcement follows the successful refueling of the Tiangong-2 temporary station by the Tianzhou-1 supply ship.

The successful five-day refueling, directed from technicians on Earth and completed on Thursday, is a key milestone toward China’s plans to begin sending crews to a permanent space station by 2022.

“This again announces the ambition and aspiration of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese people, and our resolute confidence in becoming a major space power,” the space station project’s supervisor Wang Zhaoyao told a news briefing in Beijing.

“After completing experimental stage spaceflight missions, we will enter the development and construction phase. According to our plans we will carry out the assembly and construction of China’s manned space station between 2019 and 2022.”

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