China to launch space station

China’s space authorities have announced that they want to build a 60 ton space station and add in a cargo spaceship to transport supplies.

And the China Manned Space Engineering Office isn’t finishing there, telling journos at a news conference yesterday that the craft will be made of three capsules. It wants the public to get stuck in by asking them to suggest names and a standout symbol for the space station. Chairman Wow

They had previously named the station “Tiangong” meaning heavenly palace, and the spacecraft to transport astronauts was named “Shenzhou”, or divine vessel

The station, which according to state paper the People’s Daily, is due to be completed in 2020. It is expected to launch the 60 ton 18.1 meter long module first. After this, a further two capsules will then shoot off to dock with the first part.

According to China the space station is “rather small” compared to the likes of the International Space Station and the Russia Mir Station, which weigh in at a huge 419 and 137 tons respectively. The cargo spaceship has an average weight of 13 tons, made to transport supplies and lab facilities to the space station.

According to the schedule, a space module Tiangong-1 and the Shenzhou VIII spacecraft will be launched in the latter half of this year, while Shenzhou IX and Shenzhou X will be launched next year to dock with Tiangong-1.