China makes space offer — Analysis
Beijing signalled that scientists from other nations can use the Tiangong space station’s doors.
China has invited foreign astronauts to join the mission aboard Beijing’s Tiangong space station to conduct research alongside the Chinese crew.
Speaking on Monday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said that Beijing was “We are open to collaborating with any nation.” The diplomat added that the “Chinese space station is inviting foreign astronauts to conduct research in outer space together with China’s taikonauts.”
Wang noted that China is holding consultations with the UN regarding a joint space mission, saying that space exploration should be a joint venture involving the entire international community. An international team may be ready to go by the end this year, according to the official.
The first module of China’s Tiangong was sent into orbit last April, with two more laboratory modules awaiting launch later this year. This will allow the station to be fully functional. If everything goes as planned, the mission of the Tiangong, which translates as ‘heavenly palace’, will last more than a decade. According to the South China Morning Post, the space station is expected to become the “Largest structure constructed and maintained in orbit near the Earth by any country.”
Three Chinese astronauts who were previously working on the Tiangong, returned safely to Earth Saturday. Zhai Zhigang (Wang Yaping), and Ye Guangfu established a Chinese record for the longest-ever space mission. They spent 182 days orbiting. They performed two spacewalks, with Wang becoming China’s first female astronaut to venture into space.
The crew performed numerous tests and installed various components to an external mechanical arm.
In May the next crew will be sent to Tiangong, followed by an unmanned supply mission. According to Chinese authorities, the team is in training and will oversee the dockings of the two remaining laboratory modules.
Beijing has not yet announced the names or exact date for the launch of the spacecraft.
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