China launched its first permanent space station replica, which will replace a laboratory that orbits the international community and symbolizes the country's main ambitions outside the Earth. The 17-meter core module is a star attraction in China's biennial airshow in the southern coastal city of Zhuhai, the country's premier aerospace industry exhibition.
This model represents the living and working space of Tiangong – or "Heavenly Palace" – which will also have two other modules for scientific experiments and will be equipped with solar panels. Three astronauts will be permanently placed in a 60-ton drainage laboratory, which will allow the crew to conduct biological and micro-gravity research. The assembly is expected to be completed around 2022 and the station will have a period of about 10 years.
The International Space Station – a collaboration between the United States, Russia, Canada, Europe and Japan – has been operating since 1998 but will be stopped in 2024. China will have the only space station in orbit, although it will be much smaller than the ISS which has weighs 400 tons and is as big as a soccer field. The country announced in May that laboratories would be open to "all countries" to conduct science experiments.
Research institutions, universities, and public and private companies have been invited to submit projects. This has received 40 plans from 27 countries and regions, according to state media. The European Space Agency has sent astronauts to China to receive training to be ready to work on the Chinese space station after it was launched. China poured billions into military-run space programs, with plans to send humans to the Moon in the near future.
But have experienced several disorders. A space laboratory dubbed Tiangong-1 was destroyed when it fell back to Earth in early April, two years after it stopped functioning. Chinese authorities deny that the laboratory – which was placed in orbit in September 2011 as a trial place for permanent stations – is out of control. The second laboratory, Tiangong-2, was launched into orbit in 2016.