China has been dabbling in space station technology for years now, but until this week the nation's aims were less than concrete, mostly consisting of plans to launch testbed technologies into orbit at some nebulous future date. Yesterday, China cleared up any doubt about its space station ambitions, unveiling an ambitious plan to build its own orbiting space station within the next ten years.
Currently known as Tiangong, or "heavenly palace," (Chinese officials are asking the public for suggestions for a permanent name) the 66-ton space station will support a crew of three and host two laboratories for astronomy, microgravity, and biological experiments. And, depending on the politics and economics surrounding the ISS, it could be the only space station in orbit in the decade following 2020 (the ISS is scheduled to be decommissioned then, though its life could be extended to 2028).
Tiangong will be modular like the ISS, composed of one central module and two science lab modules. The central module will be about 60 feet long, the labs about 50 feet long each, and the whole thing about 14 feet maximum diameter throughout. In other words, it won't be nearly the size of the ISS, or even Russia's Mir.
But the very idea signals a shift in the balance of power in Earth orbit as NASA reduces its own role in orbital spaceflight activities to focus on deep space missions. China only put a human into orbit for the first time less than a decade ago and conducted its first spacewalk three years ago. Now, flush with cash, it is planning to develop homegrown orbital space technologies at an extremely rapid pace.
How fast? The Tiangong-1 module is going up later this year to begin testing docking technologies with an unpiloted spacecraft. Two manned spacecraft will follow that. Tiangong-2 will follow, demonstrating the ability to support a crew of three for 20 days. Tiangong-3--slated for 2015--will support a crew for 40 days. By the time China gets around to building the real station toward the end of this decade, those three test modules will have provided the data and technology that should enable the construction of the final product.
Chinese officials said they welcome international exchanges and that they plan to use rendezvous and docking hardware that is compatible with the ISS, meaning foreign vessels will be able to dock with the heavenly palace. In other words, China plans to adhere to the precedent of openness in space.
But the technologies the Chinese develop and the capabilities they offer would put China in a powerfully autonomous position in space, which could lead to political tensions on the ground. One NASA adviser called the project "a potent political symbol."
Beware of their mass drive that they install onboard.
Amazing what you can do without a EPA holding you back.
How much you want to bet the chinese design will look amazingly like a stolen US one.
China Announces Plan to Build a Manned Space Station of its Own Within Ten Years ( THANKS to technology stolen from the US during the Clinton years )
@imikeh, I did get a bit of a chuckle from your comment. However, it is not entirely a fair comment. Don't forget that many of the "Discoveries" you read about in this forum are made by Chinese nationals that were educated in the West.
China has every right to go at it alone considering they were not invited (allowed) to participate in the ISS program.
Yes the designs will be similar. A space station built in China will look like a space station built in the US or the EU, just like a car built in China will look like a car built anywhere else.
Sure there will be some "borrowed" technology, but don't forget the history of the US. Where would there mighty US Airforce be today without the captured German Jet technology?
im a bit more worried about them arming it
I do not see this happening. China faked their space walk. Are they going to fake their moon landing as well?
Actually, if they armed it, the space station would violate the Outer Space Weapons Treaty. Since the whole world knows about their space station (hence it's on Popsci), I really doubt the Chinese would be arming it. Micro-meteoroids are a bigger problem.
*Correction* Outer space treaty, not weapons.
This is horse Sh@#. I'm moving to China. I am going to drive to the beach friday and watch the shuttle go up. My moving date will be after the June launch the final and last frontier. I f ing hate this. We are the future. Let get out of debt.
Late to the party like always and want people to applaud. Who cares, When a country as big a China does something that is so 1960s I don't see the big deal. Their whole space program is a joke, if they didn't buy rockets and capsules and space gear from Russia then reveres engineer it they would still be 20 years behind.
I think scientists should put more effort to build manned starship for taking us away from an eminent third world war. www.youtube.com/watch?v=ysTMByWXphQ
If this is true China will be the only country with an independent presence is space...I never thought I'd see the day.
Also the ISS is only funded for the next 8 years...what a waste...so much for a "permanent" presence in space. They should sell the ISS to private industry after 2020..that way it won't go to waste.
Ok, assuming China builds the best space station ever. The plans will come from some other country as China is always hacking some other country and trying to steal their secrets. They can’t actually invent and produce anything of their own invention.
But, let’s say they do get the thing built and flying high in the sky. Their science experiments will fail and their astronauts will be sick and or die, from some king of poison or containment. The companies of China are always making some product that is poisoning someone, let alone all their babies.
And last, the space station will probably blow up in the sky or come crashing down do to some kind of hacking virus from China itself too.
Oh yea, I like to see China build a space station. I hope its up in the air the 4th of July. The fireworks should be spectacular to watch. Ha ha ha!
lol @ bubbagump
yeah china isnt the best when it comes to technology. ever notice how most thing "made in china" easily break and dont last that long? yeah that should give you an idea of how things in space might go for them. dont get me wrong i like independent countries but in order for them to succeed they will need outside help. china, russia, north korea, iran and venezuela should all team up and start their own space station and call it the ISS 2, the Independent Space Solution.
No matter how much of their program comes from other places, it will still be an ambitious and well planned strategy to use space as a means of becoming an ever greater influence on earth and in space. We really must examine our own progress and at least keep pace with the Chinese. A comparable (though smaller) space station competing w/ ISS that China doesn't have to deal with any other nations to maintain will give them an advantage to every one else. I certainly hope our deep space initiatives don't get shelved in the meantime, or someday China will indeed rank supreme in space-and on earth.
most of you are very paranoid, this will be a lame attempt at a space station at best, @All4it, we already had jet engines before the nazis surrendered, the big thing we got was rocket technology
@drchuck1, not sure where you are getting your information from, but the first successful jet engine flight was from, but in 1935 Hans von Ohains' He 178 was the world's first jet plane. According to Google that is.
look it up, the germans had the first, near the end of the war the US and Britian both had a jet fighter, nevermind, here it is http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_generation_jet_fighter like i said we gained rocket tech that led to the saturn 5, already had jet tech
@drchuck1, well now I know how history and statics can be used to serve anyones purpose. First generation jet fighters and developing and having the first operation jet plane are two different things. I would recommend you watch the History Channel if it is available in your area, or do some more research on jet technology and where the innovation really came from.
Not trying to argue with you, but the German jet technology was far superior to anything the US or Brits had at the time. Fortunately for me, the Germans didn't know just how superior it was. Otherwise, you and I would not have the opportunity to read, talk or learn about history or technology right now.
actually the 3 fighters in question never met in combat so it is not known which of these would be superior and that is according to the history channel, however, the germans for the most part had more advavnced weapons and had a good chance at winning the war but blew it, i wasn't twisting statistics as you suggest, the fact is we got jet tech from the brits who developed it independently at the same time as the germans so obviously we did not get this from the germans as you stated, stop running around the fact you were mistaken, it happens to us all, these early jet engines are similair in design and performance as similiarly sized electric motors are as well
@drchuck1, I concede, you win...for now!
been busy, thank you, quite unexpected but appreciated, i wasn't considering it a contest, just trying to get a point across, this time!..lol