A computer-generated rendering of the Tiangong space station, set to be up and running in 2022. Photo: Handout
A computer-generated rendering of the Tiangong space station, set to be up and running in 2022. Photo: Handout

A life-size, mock-up module of China’s next generation space station, the Tianqong, or celestial palace, will allow aerospace enthusiasts and overseas officials in charge of space technologies to step inside for a look at the future of China’s manned space exploration program.

The model will be showcased at the Zhuhai Airshow in November, where the nation’s Space Administration will launch a host of shows and symposiums and invite overseas stakeholders to hop aboard China’s new space trek, the People’s Daily reported.

A model of the core module of the new Tiangong will be among the featured exhibits at the biennial airshow to be held in Zhuhai in southern Guangdong province between November 6 and 11.

Chinese space technicians working on a replica of a storage module for the future Tiangong space station. Photo: China Central Television screen grab

The new Tiangong now being designed will have a core module and two lab modules, with ports for multiple spacecraft to dock, in a scale roughly comparable with the Mir operated by the Soviet Union and Russia from 1986 to 2001.

Weighing more than 20 tons each, the modules are designed to accommodate three taikonauts on long-endurance missions. The 16.6-meter-long core module will also include a utility hub and a resources module.

Capable of long-term autonomous operation, the core module is the integrated control unit of the space station, the living area and the place for medical and space science experiments.

Cabinets inside and outside the modules can support scientific research and application projects in space science, space life science, biotechnology, microgravity fundamental physics and space materials. An optical telescope will orbit near the station and can dock for maintenance, according to specifications of the new Tiangong released by the Chinese Space Administration.

China’s crewed space station is scheduled for completion by 2022 and will orbit Earth for more than 10 years. When the International Space Station starts its orbital decay in 2024, China’s Tiangong may be the only one left in orbit.

Now the Tiangong 2 space lab continues its post-lifespan operation some 390 kilometers above Earth, after hosting two Chinese taikonauts in October 2016.

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