China launches the first component of its space station

The Tianhe Central Unit (Celestial Harmony), the future home of astronauts, was propelled by a Long-March 5B rocket from the Wenchang Launch Center, on the tropical island of Hainan in the south of the country, according to the TV.

Hundreds of enthusiasts gathered on the nearby beaches to take pictures of the bomber rising in the air in a cloud of white smoke.

An illustration showing the future space station orbiting Earth.

Photo: CMSEO

President Xi Jinping sent a telegram to his country congratulations For technical teams, the space station being A pioneering project to make the country a powerhouse for science, technology and space.

The station will be effective Great progress As for China, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in the United States, Jonathan McDowell, told AFP.

This would allow it to have a permanent human presence in space and thus greatly increase the astronaut experience. It’s named in English CSS (for Chinese space station or The Chinese Space Station) and China’s Tiangong (Celestial Palace) will operate in low Earth orbit between an altitude of 340 and 450 km.

Similar to the former Soviet Russian station I (1986-2001), he is expected to be 10 to 15 years old.

It will serve as a base for large-scale operations: manned missions to the moon, space tourism, space science, or even concrete applications for humans.Chen Lan, an analyst at GoTaikonauts.com who specializes in the Chinese space program, notes.

When completed, CSS should weigh close to 100 tons. For comparison, it would be three times smaller (in size) than the International Space Station (ISS).

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The Tianhe unit launched Thursday will be the central element of the future station and will also be its control center.

To finish building CSS, China must launch about ten missions through the end of 2022, some of them populated. A specific timetable has not been released.

However, the next steps: The Tianzhou-2 cargo ship should be launched and docked in Tianhe, a priori in May. Then the manned mission Shenzhou 12 Astronauts should take on a CSS under construction in June.

With the International Space Station headed by the US Space Agency (NASA), there will be two stations in Earth orbit.

Politically, this symbolizes the increasing competition between the United States and China.Chen Lan noted.

Due to its size and limited international cooperation at present, the Chinese station does not have the means to be a competitor to the International Space Station. It is generally more mature and efficientJonathan McDowell estimate.

However, Beijing said it is open to cooperating with the outside. Thus Chinese and UN scientists have chosen experiments by foreign researchers, which will be conducted in CSS in the future.

These visitors will conduct experiments, but they will be more tourists than partners in operating the station, in contrast to the more active role of Japanese and European astronauts in the International Space Station.M. McDowell noted.

Russia and Pakistan are likely the first partners and the European Space Agency (ESA) could follow., But this last collaboration is Very uncertain, Sentences The political climate changed a lotChen notes, referring to the tensions around Xinjiang and Hong Kong.

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Will Alien Astronauts Step Up to CSS? Maybe, but there’s no chance of seeing an American there: US law prohibits NASA from having anything to do with China.

The Asian giant has invested billions in its space program for several decades.

China sent its first astronaut into space in 2003. The country landed with a machine on the far side of the moon in early 2019, the first in the world.

Last year, he brought samples from the moon and terminated the Beidou navigation satellite system (a competitor of the US GPS).

China plans to land a robot on Mars next month or send humans to the moon by 2030. It has also announced that it wants to build a base on the moon with Russia.

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