China is planning on having a fully functional space station by the time the ISS retires in 2024
China are moving forward in their dominance over space exploration by building a massive space station that will be fully operational in time for the International Space Station’s (ISS) retirement in 2024.
The China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) is currently in the process of building the space science laboratory and will be the only station conducting research in space once the ISS bows down. Chinese scientists and engineers are already launching the Tiangong-1 and Tiangong-2 modules while 2018 sees a launch of the Tianhe-1, a core space station carried out by a powerful rocket named Long March 5.
Despite launching Tiangong-1, the ground communication has already lost contact with the module while Tiangong-2 has successfully found its position after being launched last month.
The aim is for astronauts to stay in space for up to a year conducting research into microgravity and analyzing further the space environment. While launches have already gone underway, the CASC are planning several more launches over the next few years and are aiming to have a fully functional space station by 2024.
Plans for a Chinese space station have been in the works since 1992 and according to an itech report, relationships between U.S. space agencies and the Chinese have been frosty since the U.S. banned China from being allowed onto the ISS due to national security. Will this affect how the Chinese treat future U.S. astronauts if they obtain the monopoly on space exploration? Only time will tell.