Tiangong Space Station

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Overview:

China recently launched the Shenzhou-17 spacecraft, carrying the country's youngest-ever crew to the Tiangong Space Station.

About Tiangong Space Station

  • Tiangong (Chinese for "Heavenly Palace") is a modular space station being constructed by the China National Space Administration (CNSA).
  • It is the first space station built by China.
  • Tiangong is currently in low Earth orbit (LEO), and it is expected to be operational until 2028.
  • It is a three-module space station. The core module, Tianhe, launched in April 2021, followed by the Wentian and Mengtian experiment modules in 2022.
  • Tiangong is significantly smaller and lighter than the International Space Station (ISS), with only three modules compared to the ISS's 16 modules.
  • It can accommodate up to three astronautsat a time for six-month stays. It can also support six astronauts at a time during crew handovers.
  • The station will have its own power, propulsion, life support systems, and living quarters.
  • The new space station is planned to share its orbit with the Xuntian space telescope to allow astronauts to easily repair and upgrade the telescope.
  • China is only the third country to have put both astronauts into space and build a space station, after the Soviet Union (now Russia) and the US.

Why does China have its own space station?

  • China is excluded from the ISS programme, largely due to U.S. concerns over the Chinese space programs' links with the People's Liberation Army.
  • In 2011, the US Congress prohibited NASA from cooperating substantially with its Chinese counterpart without express prior authorization. 
  • This law, known as the Wolf Amendment, makes it very difficult for China to participate in the ISS programme, if the nation even wishes to do so. 

Q1) What is the International Space Station (ISS)?

It is a large, habitable spacecraft in low Earth orbit that serves as a space laboratory, living quarters for astronauts, and a platform for various scientific experiments and international cooperation.The ISS is a collaborative project involving multiple space agencies, including NASA (United States), Roscosmos (Russia), ESA (European Space Agency), JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency), and CSA (Canadian Space Agency). 

Source: China successfully launches youngest crew to its Tiangogn space station