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Manned space station set for 2020

10-28-2010 10:10 BJT

BEIJING - China formally launched its manned space station program, aiming to build a "relatively large" manned station around 2020, a spokesman for the program said on Wednesday.

A space laboratory will be launched before 2016 to study key technology involved in a space station, such as living conditions for astronauts and research, the spokesman said.

A simulated depiction of a module docking with Tiangong I to form a space laboratory.[Photo/www.cmse.gov.cn]

A core module will be launched around 2020 and that, along with experimental modules, will form the space station, he said.

The country's first space docking, an essential step in building a space station, is planned for next year when two unmanned space modules, Tiangong I and Shenzhou VIII, are launched.

Following the docking, Tiangong I, or Heavenly Palace, will eventually be transformed into a manned space laboratory.

If all goes to plan, other dockings with Shenzhou IX and Shenzhou X, both carrying two or three astronauts, will take place, according to the Xinhua News Agency.

"The space station program is expected to enhance China's national strength and prestige," the spokesman said.


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