China to launch Tiangong 2 laboratory this year and complete the space station by 2020
According to China's Aerospace Corporation, they will carry out over 20 space launches in 2016, which so far is the largest number of missions in a year. These will include a launch of a manned spacecraft, China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation said.
"This year will see more than 20 space launches, the most missions in a single year," China’s major space contractor said, as quoted by the China daily newspaper.
According to the space agency, China will launch the Tiangong 2 space laboratory by late June to probe life support technologies for Beijing’s future space station, as well as the Shenzhou XI manned spacecraft.
China is also expected to launch two satellites for domestic navigation systems and one communications satellite for Belarus.
China is already testing surface-to-air missiles that could strike targets in orbit and it's also working with experimental lasers that can scramble or "blind" satellites.
China plans to send astronauts to the habitat module, which will serve as a stepping stone toward a major space station. Chinese officials plan to have this station fully operational by 2020. Some security analysts fear the station will have military implications.
China still trails far behind Russia and the US in terms of space technology. But in the last 12 years, China has sought to rapidly reduce the gaps it holds with both nations, and it's showing no intentions of slowing down.