HELSINKI — The first module for China’s planned space station has passed a final review, but the project continues to suffer launch vehicle-related delays.
The China Manned Space Agency (CMSA) announced Sept. 6 that the 20-metric-ton ‘Tianhe’ module design and prototype had passed final reviews Sept. 2. The flight model would be manufactured in the near future.
Tianhe (‘Harmony of the Heavens’) is the core module for the Chinese Space Station (CSS) and will control the station’s orbit and attitude and function as the main astronaut quarters.
When Tianhe will launch is still unknown. According to previous official statements the first of three modules for the space station was to be launched in 2020, with the complex to be completed by ‘around 2022’.
The ‘around 2022’ time frame had not changed despite ongoing delays in readying the launch vehicle required for the project, suggesting a more compressed schedule.
The timeline for completion has however now shifted to ‘2022-2024’, according to Qi Faren, chief designer of the Shenzhou spacecraft which has facilitated China’s human spaceflight missions.
Qi provided media with the new timeline at a satellite navigation and location services conference in Zhengzhou, Henan Province, Sept. ...