China's space station Tiangong, or Heavenly Palace, which is scheduled to be launched in 2022, is expected to match or approach the standards of the International Space Station, and marks a breakthrough for the country's aerospace, experts said Wednesday.
"There are only a handful of countries capable of sending a space station up into orbit. It's a massive program that demonstrates China's comprehensive scientific and technological capabilities," Zhang Baoxin, an aviation and military expert at China Aviation News, told the Global Times on Wednesday.
Bigger than the 140-ton Russian Mir space station, the 66-ton Tiangong, or Heavenly Palace, consists of a core module and two laboratory cabins: enough for three astronauts in the long term and six during crew exchange.
"Tiangong will allow China to have a space lab to conduct successive scientific experiments," Zhang said.
With a service life of more than 10 years, Tiangong will orbit at 383-403 kilometers and its modular structure makes it easy to maintain or expand according to research needs, Science and Technology Daily reported on Tuesday.
The functioning, work effectiveness, techniques used in construction and logistical supplies surpass the Mir and match or approach the standards of the International Space Station, Zhou Jianping, chief engineer of China's manned space program, was quoted as saying by the Science and Technology Daily.
A synoptic survey telescope, expected to have as high a resolution as the Hubble Space Telescope and a field angle 200 times the Hubble, will be rocketed up to join the Tiangong in orbit.
"Synoptic" means observations that combine for a broad view of a subject at a particular time.
"The combination of the 500-meter Aperture Spherical Radio Telescope and orbital synoptic survey telescope will allow China's aerospace development to advance by leaps and bounds… and China could even lead the field," Zhang said.