Building a space station Tiangong China has been in limbo for the past few months, but now it is said to have big plans to expand its low-Earth orbit project.
Chinese state media recently reported that officials in the country announced at an exhibition their plans to launch a new module to be added to the Tiangong space station. So the new module will be placed next to the three modules already attached to the T-shaped space station, making it a cross shape.
China plans to equip this multipurpose module with six docking ports so that more spacecraft can connect to the space station. China has already claimed that it plans to allow space tourists to visit Tiangong, so the presence of the module would be useful for its space programs.
The presence of international astronauts at the Tiangong space station
Chinese officials also announced plans to begin hosting international astronauts at Tiangong. Chen Shangguang, deputy designer of China’s human space flight program, told reporters:
“We are about to select international astronauts to send to our space station and conduct scientific experiments with each other.”
In November, China launched the station’s third module, Mengtian (Dream of Heaven), to complete the T-shaped Tiangong structure in low-Earth orbit. The first module of the space station, called Tianhe, was launched in May last year, and Wentian was connected to it as the second module of the Tiangong space station in August this year. Currently, Tiangong is about a quarter the size of the International Space Station.
Given that Tiangong was launched as China’s answer to the International Space Station, the presence of astronauts from different countries could be part of China’s plan to turn its space station into an international center in low Earth orbit.