China is one country that is always hustling for new inventions. Moreover, it keeps striving for bringing out newer and better versions of already existing technologies and products. While the International Space Station is doing its job rather well, China has commenced establishing its own space station with the launch of its Long March 5B rocket. China National Space Administration (CNSA) says the Chinese Space Station (CSS) will help improve military and civilian communications, perform cutting-edge research, and support long-term goals for space exploration, with special emphasis on Moon and Mars missions.
The journey began on April 28 as China launched the 23-ton rocket Long March 5B from the coastal Wenchang spaceport. The rocket carried the Tianhe space station core module, which separated from the first stage after 490 seconds of flight. Also known as ‘harmony of the heavens’, Tianhe will set its orbit at around 370km above the Earth. It will be joined by the uncrewed Tianzhou-2 cargo spacecraft in May 2021. CNSA will then send three astronauts aboard Shenzhou-12 in June to the CSS. The mission will be the third of 11 launches scheduled for 2021 and 2022.
As China celebrated the successful launch of the first module of its indigenous space station, the West didn’t express much delight at the achievement. Several experts from the Western part of the world have already raised concerns over China building its own space station. The space station could benefit China for military purposes, experts iterated. Pundits also stated China could use it for affecting the United States military’s information resources. They claimed Beijing is striving to match or surpass the capabilities of the US in space tech to obtain military and economic gains.
Eagerly looking to slam China in the matter, the West took advantage of the uncontrolled re-entry of the Long March 5B into the Earth’s atmosphere. As debris from the rocket fell just left of the Maldives in the Indian Ocean, NASA took no time to slam the incident, stating China failed to “meet responsible standards”. “Spacefaring nations must minimize the risks to people and property on Earth of re-entries of space objects and maximize transparency regarding those operations”, said NASA Administrator Sen. Bill Nelson. “China is failing to meet responsible standards regarding their space debris”, he added. It, however, remains unclear if the scrap fell on the land or in the ocean.
The launch of the 16.6-meter-long, 4.2-meter-diameter Tianhe module was just the beginning of a big statement that China is wanting to make. And, it won’t be wrong to already crown China with the title of an undisputed superpower in space. The CSS is a mission that China started working on in as early as 1992. There’s no doubt that the world’s second-largest economy is going to put everything into it to take on the already established space superpowers. The US denying China membership in the International Space Station project didn’t do much good, either.
With that in place, CNSA will be launching experiment modules Wentian and Mengtian in 2022. The CSS, as a whole, is said to operate in orbit for at least ten years and host an array of experiments in space life science, biotechnology, astronomy, space medicine, microgravity combustion, space technologies, and microgravity fluid physics.