“China laid out plans for its future in space yesterday, unveiling details of an ambitious new space station to be built in orbit within a decade. … The space station will weigh around 60 tonnes and consist of a core module with two laboratory units for experiments, according to the state news agency, Xinhua. Officials have asked the public to suggest names and symbols for the unit and for a cargo spacecraft that will serve it. Professor Jiang Guohua, from the China Astronaut Research and Training Centre, said the facility would be designed to last for around a decade and support three astronauts.”
What’s the Big Idea?
“The project, which one N.A.S.A. adviser describes as a ‘potent political symbol’, is the latest phase in China’s rapidly developing space programme. It is less than a decade since China put a human into orbit for the first time, and three years since its first spacewalk. … The project heralds a shift in the balance of power among spacefaring nations. In June, the US space agency, Nasa, will mothball its whole fleet of space shuttles, in a move that will leave only the Russians capable of ferrying astronauts to and from the International Space Station.”