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The Chinese space station will be ready by the end of the year

Plan ahead Chinese space station Keep charging. In recent days, the three astronauts have done the mission Shenzhou 14 They landed aboard the Tianhe UnitOver the next six months, they will be working tirelessly on the preparations for the official launch of the station Tiangongscheduled for the end of the year. Just in time to celebrate Xi Jinping’s re-election to lead the country, which should be announced in the fall at the end of the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of China. Above all, to be ready to launch another key piece in the strategies with which Beijing wants to challenge (at a symbolic level at least) American dominance in space: Xuntianthe first space telescope Chinese, which is expected to join the station in 2023.

Shengzhou 14

as announced From Chinese State Radio (in English) CGTNthe capsule on which the astronauts traveled with the station was scheduled for 11:42 a.m. Italian time. June 5after a trip seven hours It started in the Gobi desert. Their mission will be the most demanding than ever for the Chinese space agency staff: between one science experiment and another, in fact, the three astronauts will be responsible for assembling the two new modules that will arrive this year, and for the point. Of all terminal tools.

Not an easy job, which will require many hours of hard work in and out of the units. Speaking of the latter, the first to arrive will be the unit Wentian (“Searching for the heavens”, in Mandarin), a space laboratory that will join tianhe (“Heavenly harmony‘, but also an old name he uses Milky Way) at the end of July. So it will arrive in October Mengtian (“dreaming of the sky‘), the last piece will complete T-shaped structure. from the station Tiangong (“Palace in the sky”), and in this case also intended to host a laboratory for space experiments. Once the assembly is complete, the mission is expected to arrive Shengzhou 15: Three other astronauts will replace the Shengzu 14 mission personnel, cohabiting with them for a few days, and for the first time on the Chinese space station.

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Compared to the International Space Station

station presence Tiangong It has a specific reason: legal ban Since 2011, NASA has been prohibited Any cooperation with China in the field of space. After being born from the impossibility of accessing International Space Station, comparison is a must: What are the characteristics of the flaming tiangong, and how is it fare compared to the good old ISS? In many respects, the two stations are nearly identical. Orbit altitude, for example (a semi-mandatory option, balancing costs and risks for astronauts and the need to move away from denser regions of the atmosphere): The Chinese station orbits Earth with an average altitude of about 389 km From the surface, while the International Space Station is on average a few tens of kilometers higher.

until the energy resources Of the two stations are very similar, and even in this case it is a forced choice: there is nothing better than Sun light when in space. However, turning to the dimensions, the situation changes: the ISS weighs about 400 tons, as against only a mass of 100 for Tiangong (more in line with the mass of the late Mir). However, the Chinese terminal must be designed to make better use of the available space: fully loaded and expected to be able to accommodate up to 12 astronauts At the same time, while the current record on the International Space Station is 9.