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China unveils plan to set up manned space station in 2020

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BEIJING (BNS): China has officially announced its plans to set up a manned space station by 2020.

The extended programme will involve launching of unmanned and manned space modules and a space laboratory which will eventually pave way for the manned space station in 2020, the China Daily reported.

As a first step, China will send two unmanned space modules – Tiangong I and Shenzhou VIII – as the country’s first space docking platforms in 2011. Once docked, the Tiangong I module will eventually be transformed into a manned space laboratory.

Depending on the success of these modules, other dockings with the Shenzhou IX and Shenzhou X, both carrying two or three astronauts, will subsequently take place.

A space laboratory which will study key technology involved in a space station, such as living conditions for astronauts and research, will then be launched in 2016, a spokesman for the country’s manned space station programme was quoted as saying by the China Daily newspaper.

If all goes well, then the core module of the “relatively large” space station will be launched in 2020 along with other experimental modules, which would provide a platform not only for carrying out scientific experiments but also for exploring deep space in future.

If it achieves success, then China will become the third country in the world to build its own space station after Russia and the USA.

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