China to launch space station by 2023
China expects to complete its first orbiting space station within a decade. The station, in low-Earth orbit, will be able to support six crew on short-term missions and three for long-term stays. Its design consists of three capsules - a core module attached to two laboratories - with a cargo vessel to transport supplies.
The 2023 launch target was revealed at the International Astronautical Congress (IAC) in Beijing. According to the China Manned Space Agency, the space station will cover an area of 60 sq m. Its core module (18.1m long) will weigh 20 to 22 metric tonnes and will be attached to two self-contained labs.
Once operational, astronauts would be able to make long-term missions in orbit and conduct technical tests and science experiments, said Wang Zhaoyao, the director of the space agency. But before all this, China must first test technologies in renewable life support and in-orbit refuelling.