Work on space lab ramps up

Updated: 2016-04-21 02:59

By Zhao Lei(China Daily)

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Around 2018, China will lift the core module, Tianhe I, into space. The module will have five docking hatches capable of connecting with a cargo spacecraft, two manned spaceships and two experiment cabins. It also will have a hatch for astronauts to exit the space station for activities outside the spacecraft, according to Zhou Jianping, chief designer of the country's manned space program.

By 2022, the Chinese space station will become fully operational, according to the China Manned Space Agency. It noted that China will become the only owner of a space station in 2024, when the International Space Station will retire.

China launched its first space lab, Tiangong I, in September 2011. With a designated life span of two years, it has been in service for four-and-a-half years and is in good condition. The space lab has successfully conducted six automatic and astronaut-controlled dockings with the Shenzhou VIII, Shenzhou IX and Shenzhou X spacecraft.

Currently, there are 106 spacecraft developed by the China Academy of Space Technology that are in active service. The academy is capable of producing 30 spacecraft and developing80 more each year, it said.

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