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China introduces the first module of its space station

The Tianhe block, which will be launched by a rocket from Hainan Island on Thursday, is the first of three components that will make up the future Chinese space station, which is expected to be operational by 2022.

China will be the first of three components of its space station on Thursday, April 29, with an ambitious plan for Beijing, which should eventually be allowed to have permanent astronauts in space. Public television broadcast on CCTV that the Diane (“Heavenly Harmony”) module was launched by a long March 5B rocket from the Wenchang Launch Center on the tropical island of Hainan (south).

The assembly of the Chinese space station is to be spread over more than a year, in about ten consecutive missions (including four men). It should be fully operational by 2022. Named in English for its abbreviated CSS (“Chinese space station”), it operates in low Earth orbit (between 340 and 450 km altitude) and resembles the old Russian station “Mir”. 1986-2001). Life expectancy: 10 to 15 years.

It is expected to weigh over 90 tonnes in total. By comparison, it would be three times smaller than the International Space Station (ISS) where French astronaut Thomas Baskett is currently located. At 16.6 meters long and 4.2 meters in diameter, the Tianhe block, which will be the centerpiece of the CSS, will be the astronauts’ living space and the station’s control center.

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The CSS, with its Chinese name Tiangong (“Heavenly Palace”), will operate in conjunction with the ISS in orbit around the Earth – which will continue to operate for many more years. If the Chinese station does not want to become a place of international cooperation like ISS, China has announced that it is open to cooperation with foreign countries.

China, once poor, has invested billions in its space program for decades to catch Europeans, Russians and Americans. The Asian company sent its first astronaut into space in 2003. China lands a machine far from the moon in early 2019 – the world’s first. Last year, he brought back models of the moon. He plans to land a small wheel robot on Mars in May. The Chinese space agency also announced last month that it wanted to build a lunar base with Russia.