What drives China to build its own space station

Tianhe-1 is the first and primary module of the upcoming Chinese Space Station (CSS) which would be fully functional by the end of 2022.

On April 29, 2021, a massive, 22 metric tonne module called Tianhe-1 took to the skies atop a heavy-lift Long March 5B rocket from the Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Centre, China. Tianhe-1 is the first and primary module of the upcoming Chinese Space Station (CSS). Reportedly, the space station will be fully functional by the end of 2022.

Tianhe-1 (which means Harmony in Heavens) is the core element of CSS comprising power and propulsion units, life support equipment, and the living quarters for the future crew.

In May, a medium-lift Long March 7 rocket will carry the next module, Tianzhou-2. The module holding the fuel and propellant unit and the cargo port of the CSS will dock with Tianhe-1.

By the end of June, China proposes to send three taikonauts (as they call their astronauts) to the space station for an extended stay on the CSS.

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