Earlier this week, China launched the main module for its new space station. The module is called Tianhe, which translates to Harmony of the Heavens. It was launched on Wednesday, April 28, using a Long March-5B Y2 rocket from a launch site in China’s Hainan province.
Tianhe is the first module of a space station that, when completed, will be significantly smaller than the ISS in orbit today. The module itself is the largest spacecraft China has ever developed, measuring 54.4 feet long, 13.8 feet wide at its widest point and a huge 22.5 tonnes at takeoff. China is now looking at an ambitious plan to complete its space station with the help of partner countries and will need ten launches to put all the components of the space station into orbit.
The United States is not one of the partner nations working with China on its space station. China was not allowed to participate in the International Space Station from the beginning, in part for fear that the nation would espion and steal technological secrets from partner nations. The ten additional launches that China will make will take place between 2021 and 2022.
The launches will include two more modules placed in orbit, four crew missions and four cargo ship flights. China will have three different types of Long March rockets to propel the ten missions to the skies.
Officials at the China Space Technology Academy previously said the space station would support six astronauts at the same time. Chinese officials say a president sustained in Earth orbit will allow the country to conduct research and perform other services. The launch and deployment of the main module for the space station was hailed as a complete success by Chinese authorities.