On Monday, China announced their plan to send 3 astronauts to its Space Station for a 3-month stay in June.
The Space Station named “Tianhe” or Heavenly Harmony is China’s third and largest space station till date. With a successful crewed mission to Tianhe, they will accomplish a great milestone in their ambitious space program.
China launched the core module Tianhe on April 29. Last Saturday, China launched a cargo spacecraft named “Tianzhou-2” which carried space suits, food, equipment, and propellant (fuel) for the space station that successfully docked with Tianhe
The three astronauts that have been selected for the 3-month stay will conduct various tasks at the station. They will practice spacewalks, conduct repair and maintenance and scientific tasks. Currently, the astronauts are in Level-2 quarantine and prepping for the upcoming mission. Although there are no female astronauts for the first crewed mission, they will participate in every upcoming mission.
With Tianzhou-2, China has completed 2 of the 11 launches for the space station- one module mission and one cargo mission. The remaining 9 missions include 2 module missions, 3 cargo missions and 4 crewed missions.
The Tianhe will be a major competitor of the ageing International Space Station (ISS). The ISS, which has been orbiting the Earth since 1999v was a collaboration between many countries- US, Russia, Japan, Europe and Canada. The 22 year old ISS is extremely outdated and will be retired in the next few years. When that happens, the Tianhe will be the only operational space station in orbit.