Less than ten years ago, they sent a man into orbit. Now Beijing is working on a modular outpost in space.
China yesterday unveiled details of the future of the space program, which includes ambitious plans to build a new space station in orbit over the next ten years.
The project, which is one of the advisers NASA described as "a symbol of political power," is one example of a rapidly developing China’s space industry.
According to the state news agency Xinhua, the space station will weigh about 60 tons, and consist of a core module and two laboratory units for experiments.
Professor Jiang Guohua’s Research and training center of Chinese astronautics, said that this facility will be designed for a decade and it will be three cosmonauts who will conduct experiments on microgravity, cosmic radiation and astronomy.
This project marks a shift in the balance of forces of space nations. In June, the U.S. space agency NASA will preserve your space fleet, and then deliver astronauts to the International Space Station will only Russia.
The station will cost China $ 100 billion. Although the outpost must be in orbit by 2020, its launch may be delayed until 2028.
The central module of Chinese space station will be 18.1 meters long and 4.2 meters in diameter, and its take-off weight will vary between 20-22 tons. Laboratory modules will be shorter (14.4 meters), but will have the same diameter and a takeoff weight.
Pang Jihan, a researcher and deputy editor of the magazine Space International, said: "The space station is 60 tons - is relatively small compared to the International Space Station [419 tonnes] and Russia’s Mir space station [137 tonnes], which served from 1986 to 2001 . "
"But this is the world’s third multi-modular space station, which usually requires a much more advanced technology than the space laboratory from a single module."
China is also developing a cargo spaceship to transport supplies and equipment to the space station. Its weight will be less than 13 tons, and the diameter of no more than 3.35 meters.
"We will stick to the policy of opening to the world," - said Jiang. "Scientists from around the world can participate in space science experiments on the Chinese space station."
China hopes to make its first moon landing in two years and an astronaut on the moon by 2025.