The International Space Station (ISS) is retiring in 2024 and if no other space station is launched till then by any other country, China could be the only country to have a base in Space.
While Russia has plans of launching its own space station, there haven’t been any concrete plans or timeline that have been put forward. Further, none of the current partners of ISS have revealed their intentions of launching a similar facility this effectively means that there might not be any space station facility from the current ISS stakeholders.
According to China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), which is a major space developer, China is planning to launch the experimental core module of its space station around 2018 with a Long March-5 heavyload carrier rocket, and the 20 tonne combination space station will be sent into orbit around 2022. When the International Space Station, China’s space station may be the only one left in service.
China’s space station will include a core module and two lab modules, with ports that will allow multiple spacecraft to dock, according to an official of CASC. Following this, a manned spacecraft and cargo spacecraft will travel between the space station and the Earth to provide supplies. Taikonauts — Chinese astronaut — can stay at the space station for over one year.
The space station has a designed life of 10 years in orbit which is 400 km above the Earth’s surface. With this space station, China will become the second country after Russia to have developed a space station.
China in 1992 made a three-step strategy for its manned space program, the large-scale manned space station being the last step. In mid October, the Shenzhou-11 spacecraft would transport two taikonauts to Tiangong-2. They would stay there for 30 days.