In 2014, China's space station will become operational at the same time when the International Space Station (ISS) will retire, according to its current plans on development. The ISS is the most well-known artificial science laboratory on a worldwide scale, but China is currently working on taking its place with a space-based science lab. It's currently unknown if China is going to be the only country in the world to detain such a facility by that time, but its plans make it the most serious candidate.
The China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) is now working on building the space station, which could be the only operational one in the world by 2024. Should this happen, the entire spectrum of scientific discoveries will be monitored by its off-Earth flight services.
As part of the preparation procedure, the country launched of the space modules Tiangong-1 and Tiangong-2, the second of which is currently in position. Tiangong-2 was sent in space using the Long March 2F rocket from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center on Sept. 14, 2016.
Moreover, even though the country lost any contact with Tiangong-1, the CASC plans are to also launch a main space station module in 2018. Its name will be Tianhe-1, and it will be driven into space by the most powerful Chinese rocket, Long March 5.
Lei Fanpei, the chairman of CASC, explained that the experimental module of the space station will launch in 2018 and, provided no other space station will be announced, China's will be the only one in service by 2024.
The Taikonauts, as the Chinese astronauts are known, could spend more than one year in the space station, which has a total life span of 10 years in orbit, 400 km above the surface of the Earth. The cargo spacecraft could, additionally, travel from our planet to the space station in order to provide the Taikonauts with necessary supplies.
With this space station, China will be the second country after Russia to have developed a space station, according to Lei. Back in 1992, the Chinese representatives created a three-step plan for the program, whose last step will be the large-scale space station.
By April 2017, China will launch the first cargo space ship, expected to bring supplies to Tiangong-2. The ship is also known by the name Tianzhou-1, and its duty is to keep astronauts safe and the space lab in orbit.
The ISS's first component was launched into orbit in 1998, being the most significant body in low Earth orbit —sometimes observable with the naked eye. The artificial satellite's components were launched by Russian Proton and Soyuz rockets, as well as American space shuttles.