China could begin making an equivalent of triple Salyut space station in 2018

The first of three experimental modules for China’s planned space station is expected to be launched in 2018, with the other two set for launch in 2020 and 2022, a leading scientist said. The modules will help form a 60-ton space station.

“We set the date as a preliminary goal,” said Gu Yidong, an academic at the Chinese Academy of Sciences and a leading research expert in manned space stations.

Previous media reports set the launch date for the modules at around 2020.

China launched the Tiangong-1 space lab in 2011. Over the next two years an unmanned and two manned spaceships docked with it, proving China’s rendezvous and docking technologies.

It is reported that China will launch the Tiangong-2 space lab around 2015, which will test the technology to sustain astronauts for longer periods in space as well as conduct experiments.

There were nine Salyut class space stations (each about 19 tons)

From 1973 to 1979, the USA had the 77 ton Skylab space station. It was launched on a modified Saturn V rocket.

The International Space Station weighs about 470 tons.

Mir was a space station that operated in low Earth orbit from 1986 to 2001. It weighed about 130 tons

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