Chinese space station Tyangun-1
We have previously written about Chinese ambition in space exploration (“China is set to conquer Mars”). But recent data show that the country has increased the pace of mission development. Now they not only want to reach their goals faster, but can also take a niche away from competitors.
Chinese space station
Chinese astronauts cannot be met on the ISS, but they are not particularly discouraged. They managed to create two own stations (Tyangun-1 and 2), and now they are building the third one. If the first two were single-module variants, then the new model will consist of several modules that will be delivered and assembled already in orbit.
The project was supposed to start in 2016, but then it was moved to 2017-2019. It is all about the unsuccessful launch of a large Changzheng-5 rocket. Not so long ago, it was said that the first launches would begin in the 2020s. However, recently in the official information agency of the People's Republic of China they reported that the first module was going to be sent already in the second half of 2019.
If everything goes according to plan, then by 2022 China will have a full-fledged space station, the functionality of which covers 15 years. Up to 3 people can be in the orbital laboratory at the same time, and the Chinese are happy to host cosmonauts from other countries.
We all know that SpaceX's Ilona Mask company is actively developing a large BFR rocket. Ideally, she will be able to deliver 100 tons of cargo and can carry out refueling in Earth orbit. It is planned to use it in 2022 for the first cargo launch on the Red Planet, and then for the transportation of the first colonists in 2024. However, China decided not to lag behind, and already in the summer of 2019, it had to carry out test flights of its heavy Changzheng-5 missile with a carrying capacity of 25 tons. Among the goals indicate the use of a rocket to remove the modules of the orbital station, the flights to the Moon and Mars. In addition, the Chinese want to beat Mask in capturing a tourist niche.
Ilon Musk said more than once that his rocket could be used for tourist trips not only to the nearest planets, but throughout the Solar System (or even beyond its limits in the distant future). But now his ambitions are still focused on Mars. Therefore, the Chinese rocket has a chance to cover a decent market share in space tourism and the launch of satellites into orbit.
With each launch, China is becoming an increasingly strong competitor in the space sector. But let's still remember that rivalry and the exchange of experience lead us to the same goal - the exploration of outer space. The main thing is that countries correctly set priorities and not try to get ahead of others just for the financial side of the issue.