The space station, expected to be completed around 2022, will operate at a low-Earth orbit and an altitude of 340 km to 450 km above the Earth surface for more than 10 years, supporting worldwide scientific and technological experiments.
China on Thursday launched a core module of its own space station, a step closer to the finishing touches on the decades-old manned space program.
The T-shape station has one core module at the center and a lab capsule on each side. Each of the modules will be over 20 tonnes, with the total mass of the station weighing about 66 tonnes.
The station is expected to be the only one left in service by 2024 when the International Space Station (ISS) now still orbiting retires, according to Lei Fanpei, chairman of China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp, a state-owned space conglomerate. Besides, Russia has recently announced that it will leave the ISS project in 2025.