The public finally got the chance to have their first glimpse of the core of China’s manned space station program on Nov 6 at Airshow China 2018 in the southern city of Zhuhai.
Seventeen meters in length, the core module of China’s space station, “Tianhe,” meaning “harmony of Heaven” in Chinese, will serve as the control and management center and docking sites of the spacecraft at the station.
It will also be the main venue allowing three astronauts to go about their own business. Designers from the China Academy of Space Technology call it “a cozy three-room apartment.”
Wang Xin, deputy director of the space station program at the China Aerospace Science & Technology Corp, told CGTN that the program is advancing smoothly. “We have now stepped fully into the age of the space station,” Wang said.
He also said that construction of the whole space station will be completed around 2022.
So far, the inside of the module is still being refined and not open to the public.
Yao Na, a visitor from Shanghai, has put the module at the top of her must-see list. “Seeing it, I can’t help but feel really proud of what the country has done in space.”
Lincoln Hines, a PhD student from the US, said that the module “gives a sense of what China is capable of and will accomplish.”
Tianhe will be on display throughout the week until Nov 11 at Airshow China, which showcases the latest achievements in China’s aerospace industry.
Models of the CZ-9 launch vehicle, expected to launch in less than a decade, is shown as the new member of the CZ family of rockets. It will also have the best carrying capacity in the family, at around 150 tons in low orbit.
Jin Jin, from China Aerospace Science & Technology Corp, said CZ-9 will be the unrivaled “Big Mac” of launch rockets. “It has the carrying capacity to propel a small city up to the sky,” Jin added.
China’s Chang’e-4 lunar probe project also has its models on show, including the world’s lightest lunar rover (140 kg). Chang’e 4 is set to be launched in December this year.