Friday, April 28, 2017 10:52 am
China plans to conduct several manned space flights from 2019 to 2022, during which a 60-tonne space station would be assembled and built.
Wang Zhaoyao, director of China’s manned space programme office,made this known on Friday.
“Tianzhou-I, China’s first cargo spacecraft, was the last flight mission of the country’s manned space program before the construction of a permanent space station,’’ Wang said at a press conference.
The spacecraft and Tiangong-II space lab completed their first in-orbit refueling on Thursday, marking the completion of the country’s space lab mission.
“The successful conclusion of the mission shows that China’s manned space program has entered the space station era.
“The space station program has been progressing steadily with its key technologies and plans already completed and its relevant flight products being tested.
“Chinese astronauts are preparing for the space station era. They are expected to stay in space for three to six months or even longer during future missions,’’ Wang noted.
Two astronauts, Jing Haipeng and Chen Dong, completed their 33-day journey, the longest mission in the country’s manned space programme to date, onboard the Shenzhou-11 spacecraft on Nov. 18.
Wang said the astronauts would be engaged in more extra-vehicular activities during the construction of the space station, which could pose challenges.