It is a typical Chinese way of doing things. Just in time for the 10th anniv celebrations of the first residents at the International Space Station (ISS), which is on November 2, China has announced that it has launched its manned space station programme, which it hopes to complete by 2020.
So typically Chinese, it has laid out a clear road map for this important project. According to a report in the Chinese daily, ``People's Daily,'' the country is attempting to develop and launch the first segment before 2016. This will focus on breakthroughs in living conditions and also research applications.
Thereafter, it would launch a core cabin and a second lab modeule around 2020 which would be assembled around the earth into a manned space station. As a part of this project, two unmanned modules, named Tiangong-1 and Shenzhou-8 will be launched in 2011. These were expected to accomplish the country's first space docking and were regarded as an essential step towards in constructing the space station.
Tiangong-1 which means Heavenly Palace, would be eventually transformed into a manned space lab . This will follow experimental dockings with Shenzhou-8, Shenzhou-9 and Shenzhou-10 spacecraft. The last two are expected to carry two or three astronauts.
According to space experts, the primary role of the Chinese space station would be to prepare its Taikonauts for a trip to Mars. There is another question---now with China going in increasingly for international colloboration in space exploration will it in the long run accomomodate astronauts from other countries?
The announcement by China about its space station programme comes just a few weeks after the director general of the European Space Agency Jean Jacques Dardin, told a meeting of the International Astrouantical Congress in Prague, that China along with India, the two Asian space powers, should become a part of the ISS.
The Chinese space station project has a lot of geo political significance. By chance if other countries decide to send their astronauts to the Chinese space station, will India long behind?
Something perhaps to ponder about.