China successfully launches first module of planned space station

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Once completed, the Chinese space station is expected to remain in low Earth orbit at between 400 and 450 kilometres above Earth for 15 years. The first module will bring the space station's base unit, according to an Aviation Analysis report.

The Tianhe core module, which houses life support equipment and a living space for astronauts, was launched from Wenchang in China's tropical Hainan province on a Long-March 5B rocket.

China on Thursday launched the first module of its new space station, state television showed, a milestone in Beijing's ambitious plan to place a permanent human presence in space.

At least 10 more launches are planned over the next two years to put at least two additional 20-ton research modules in orbit, to deliver supplies and, as early as this summer, astronaut crews, eventually giving the Chinese an operational space station of their own with a mass of more than 60 tons.

Here's a look at the planned, past and future launch of the Chinese space program.

"The station is also expected to contribute to the peaceful development and utilization of space resources through worldwide cooperation, as well as to enrich technologies and experience for China's future explorations into deeper space", Bai said, according to Xinhua. Tianhe will have a docking port and can also communicate with a powerful Chinese space satellite. Its main module is comparable to the size of the Soviet Mir Space Station and the Skylab of the United States in the 1970s, the Associated Press reports.

It took more than a decade, but in 1970, China launched its first satellite on a Long March rocket. The first, Tiangong-1, which means "Heavenly Palace-1", was abandoned and burned at the uncontrolled loss of the path. Its successor, Tiangong 2, was launched in 2016.

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The core module of China's space station on display. A highly secretive space plane is also reportedly under development.

China aims to become a major space power by 2030. NASA must obtain permission from reluctant Congress to participate in such communications.

The launch comes as China is also forging ahead with crewless missions, particularly in lunar exploration, and it has landed a rover on the little-explored far side of the Moon. In December, its Chang'e 5 probe returned lunar rocks to Earth for the first time since the USmissions of the 1970s.

China, which completed 39 launch missions past year, or about one third of the world's total, has a spaceship now orbiting Mars ahead of a planned landing scheduled for mid-May, according to officials. Thief Zhurong will search for evidence of life.

A Chinese probe carrying a rover is also due to set down on Mars sometime around the middle of next month, making China only the second country to successfully accomplish that after the US. No timeline has been proposed for such projects. Li Shangfu, chief commander of the China Manned Spaceflight Program, announced launch success shortly after.

The Chinese program proceeded steadily and cautiously according to a carefully designed schedule, largely avoiding the failures seen in the efforts of the United States and Russian Federation when they found themselves in fierce competition during the early days of spaceflight. The country's growing technological prowess could put an end to such conversations in the coming years. The country may need more private sector participation to drive innovation, as the United States has done with SpaceX and Blue Origin, and to implement new technologies, such as reusable rockets. The content is provided for informational purposes only.

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