Guests at Airshow China gather around a cylinder module representing Tiangong's living and working quarters – or "Heavenly Palace" – a replica of its first space spacecraft
ZHUHAI, China – China on Tuesday, November 6, presented a replica of its first space space station that would replace the orbiting laboratory of the international community and symbolize the country's main ambitions outside the country.
The 17-meter core of the module was the star of attraction at the Airshow China Biennale in the southern coastal city of Zhuhai, the country's main aviation industry exhibition.
Outside, the Chinese J-10 fighter and the J-20 secret fighter reassured viewers as they approached the Zhuhai sky. Inside, the state showed its fleet of no-load and other military hardware.
The guests gathered around the module of a cylindrical space station representing Tiangonga's residential and work spaces – or "Heavenly palaces" – which will have two modules for scientific experiments and will be equipped with solar panels.
The three astronauts will be permanently installed in a 60-ton orbit lab, enabling the team to carry out biological and micro-science research.
The assembly is expected to be completed around 2022, and the station would have a lifetime of around 10 years.
The international space station – cooperation between the United States, Russia, Canada, Europe and Japan – has been operating since 1998, but will retire in 2024.
China will then have the only space station in orbit, although it will be much smaller than the ISS, weighing 400 tons and is as big as a football pitch.
Millions have been spent
The country announced in May that the laboratory will be open to "all countries" for carrying out scientific experiments.
"There is no doubt that China will use its station in a similar way to that used by ISS partners: research, technology and as a springboard for exploring deep space," said Chen Lan, an analyst at GoTaikonauts.com, a website specializing in Chinese space program.
Research institutes, universities, and public and private companies have been invited to propose projects. According to the state media, approximately 40 plans from 27 countries and regions were received.
The European Space Agency sent astronauts to China to train to be ready to work inside the Chinese space station when it started.
"I am convinced that over time, China will successfully develop partnerships," said Bill Ostrove, space analyst with International International Advisor.
"Many countries and more and more private companies and universities have space programs, but they can not afford to build their own space station," he said.
"The ability to place freight cargoes and experiments on the human space platform is extremely valuable."
Beijing in its military space program spills billions of people with a plan to send people to the Moon in the near future.
Citing China as a threat, US President Donald Trump began planning to create a new "space force" in order to dominate his country over rivals in space.
A diverse space market
But the Chinese space program came across a few slips.
A space laboratory, named Tiangong-1, collapsed when it returned to Earth in early April, two years after its stop.
The Chinese authorities denied that the laboratory, which was placed in orbit in September 2011 as a test station for a fixed station, was not under control.
The second laboratory, Tiangong-2, was introduced into orbit in 2016.
"Despite numerous conversations about the opposite, now the United States remains the greatest power in the universe," Ostrow said.
"The most likely scenario for the future is that China will become one of the main space forces," he said.
But Russia, the European Space Agency, Japan and India will continue to play the "main roles" in space exploration, while private companies are becoming increasingly important in this sector, Ostrove added.
"The universe market is becoming more and more diverse," he said, "so one or two countries or companies will be difficult to dominate in an area such as the US and the Soviet Union during the Cold War." – Rappler.com