China plans to launch its second orbiting space laboratory in the next two years, a top official said yesterday.
“We will launch the Tiangong-2 space lab in 2016, and later send Shenzhou-11 and the Tianzhou-1 cargo spaceship to dock with it,” astronaut Yang Liwei said at the Association of Space Explorers congress in Beijing.
Yang became China’s first man in space aboard Shenzhou-5 in 2003, and is now deputy chief of the country’s Manned Space Agency.
China plans to launch an experimental core space station module in 2018 and finish construction of a space station around 2022, said Yang, who is also chairman of the organizing committee for the 27th annual meeting of the ASE.
This is the first time China has hosted the meeting, which has attracted almost 100 astronauts from 18 countries, indicating the country’s progress in the field.
The development of Tiangong-2, Tianzhou, Shenzhou-11, and the Long March 2F carrier rocker is at a key stage, while astronauts and ground facilities will soon start preparing for their missions, Yang told the meeting.
A new launch center in south China’s Hainan Province is almost completed while testing of the core experimental module will begin soon, he said.
Niu Hongguang, deputy commander-in-chief of China’s manned space program, said the design of the space station is well under way.