China plans to launch its second space laboratory into outer space this year, part of its strategy to create a manned space station that is expected to be in service around 2022.
China’s second space laboratory, Tiangong-2, will be attached to two separate labs. The country’s first cargo spaceship, Tianzhou-1, will be launched into space in the first half of 2017. The spaceship will be supplying propellants for Tiangong-2 and food and drinks for the astronauts.
Two astronauts will be sent to the space station by Shenzhou-11 spacecraft. Their mission is expected to last for 30 days, doubling the longest period Chinese astronauts have previously spent in space.
According to Xinhua, the main mission for the space station is to practice key technologies such as on-orbit propellant resupply, which is essential in order to ensure the permanent operation of the space station. The space station will conduct large scale science experiments.
China’s first space laboratory, Tiangong-1, was launched in 2011 and has been in good working condition ever since.