China has recommitted itself to completing its orbiting space station by the end of the year
And says it is planning more than 40 launches for 2022, putting it roughly level with the United States.
Launches would include those of two Shenzhou crewed missions, two Tianzhou cargo spacecraft and the station’s additional two modules
Shenzhou spacecraft, launching from Jiuquan in the Gobi Desert, will send crews of three astronauts to the space station
while Tianzhou cargo spacecraft will launch from Wenchang on the Chinese island of Hainan to deliver supplies and fuel to the station.
Tiangong will be much smaller than the
International Space Station
(ISS), with only three modules compared with 16 modules on the ISS.
Tiangong will also be lighter than the ISS, which weighs about 400 tons (450 metric tons
The 54-foot-long (16.6 meter) Tianhe module launched with a docking hub that allows it to receive Shenzhou and Tianzhou spacecraft, as well as welcome the two later experiment modules
Named Mengtian and Wentian, the science modules will join the Tianhe core module that is currently home to a three-person crew.