Patcay.com – Beijing has launched the Shenzhou-17 mission with its three taikonauts, heading towards the Tiangong space station. In a journey that took ten minutes and involved six and a half hours of docking maneuvers, they finally arrived safely at Tiangong.
After two successful trials with Tiangong-1 (2011-2017) and Tiangong-2 (2016-2019), China has now successfully constructed its own space station in November 2022. This station allows three spacecraft, including one logistics supply vehicle and two space capsules, to dock simultaneously.
Chinese news outlets proudly refer to this space station as a “three-bedroom apartment” due to its compact size, weighing approximately 100 tons lighter than the international space station (ISS), which has a weight of around 450 tons.
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Tiangong is designed to operate for 15 years at an orbit height of approximately 450 kilometers. China has announced an ambitious plan to increase the number of modules attached to the station from three to six in the coming years.
“We invite the entire world committed to the peaceful use of outer space to collaborate with us and participate in China’s space station missions,” Lin Xiqiang, the deputy director of the China Manned Space Agency, stated.
China’s space program is under military supervision, with taikonaut selection and training closely related to the armed forces program. Although China still trails behind the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in the space supremacy race, the country has become a major player in the field of space, mastering various space disciplines.
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The recent success provides the Beijing government with an opportunity to boost national pride and divert attention from domestic issues such as the economy and youth unemployment. The government-run television also broadcasts space rocket launches live on CCTV-4, making China’s achievements visible to the world.
Despite U.S. laws hindering collaboration with China, the competition between China, the U.S., and India in the space race reflects each country’s efforts to achieve national prestige, global technological leadership, geopolitical influence, and military power in space. India, too, has joined this race with plans to build its own space station by the year 2035.