China unveiled the plans on Monday to build a 60-ton space station, due to be completed by 2020. A cargo spaceship to transport supplies will be developed soon too.

Details about the Space Station –
 – 60 ton (ISS is 410 tons)
 – Three capsules (ISS has 16 pressurized modules)
 – Core Module – 18.1 meter long with launch weight of 20-22 tons
 – Experiment Module – Two modules, both – 14.4 meters long with launch weight of 20-22 tons
 – To be completed by 2020

“The 60-ton space station is rather small compared to the International Space Station (419 tons), and Russia’s Mir Space Station (137 tons) which served between 1996 and 2001,” said Pang Zhihao, a researcher and deputy editor-in-chief of the monthly magazine, Space International.

“But it is the world’s third multi-module space station, which usually demands much more complicated technology than a single-module space lab,” he said.Source: news.xinhuanet.com

Details on the Cargo Spaceship –
 – 3.35 meters long
 – Launch weight less than 13 tons
 – Development to start soon

Even the Chinese public is being involved in the space station. They are being asked to submit suggestions for names and symbols to adorn the space station.

(Launching Ceremony at Great Hall of the People in Beijing)

China previously named the space lab “Tiangong” meaning heavenly palace, and the spacecraft to transport astronauts was named “Shenzhou”, divine vessel. Its moon probes were named after the country’s mythical Moon Goddess “Chang’e”. But the names were selected without public input.

“We now feel that the public should be involved in the names and symbols as this major project will enhance national prestige, and strengthen the national sense of cohesion and pride,” Wang said.

The public is welcomed to submit suggestions for the space station and its three modules, as well as symbols for the China Manned Space Engineering Program and the space station.

Suggestions should be submitted between Monday and July 25 via websites including www.cmse.gov.cn or e-mailed to kongjianzhan@vip.qq.com. The result will be decided before the end of September.

Source: news.xinhuanet.com

According to China’s manned space engineering office Wang Wenbao, they are developing the first space docking as it is a precursor to building a space station.

He said China will launch its first unmanned space module, Tiangong-1, or Heavenly Palace, in the second half of this year, which will dock with three spaceships — Shenzhou-8, Shenzhou-9, and Shenzhou-10, during its two-year lifespan.

If the first space docking goes well, Shenzhou-9 will probably be carrying astronauts for manned space docking procedures.Source: english.cri.cn

With China focusing on space missions and space stations, will US re-evaluate its focus? With budget cuts and record deficits, I doubt the change. Though US is still far ahead in the space race, but with these initiatives, we might get overtaken soon.

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