I have previously talked a lot about the Chinese space program, because I love looking at space stations as much as watching an emotional football match. I just stumbled at this outline of the Chinese manned spaceflight, which details the previous and future Chinese manned space program. It’s from October 2009 and written by Wang Zhonggui (CNSA Manned Space Engineering deputy general designer), Dong Nengli (CNSA Manned Space Engineering Program) and Zhai Zhigang (CNSA Taikonaut). So it’s all people working at CNSA (Chinese National Space Agency) and they do know what they’re talking about. Even better, these guys are not politicians. Here’s the part about the future:
2011: Building of the first space station of China, called Tiangong-1. Maybe space station is a bit of an exaggeration, as it seems to be only two modules attached to each other and rather short lived.
2015: The second space station, this time a real space laboratory will be put in space and stay there for a while. No exact duration is given. I guess this is the mission that is also known as Tiangong-2, previously assumed to take place in 2013. It’s supposed to consist of a laboratory, a cargo ship and the Shenzhou crew transport vehicle. I guess multiple Shenzhous will be used to bring several crews in a row.
2020: Construction of a long lived space station, consisting of three 20 metric ton laboratories. This station should stay in space for roughly 10 years and it’s the first time I hear about this third Chinese space station on the schedule. This might be called Tiangong-3 then and it looks pretty similar to the previous Russian MIR space station.
Furthermore a concept study for a manned flight to the moon should be conducted in the nearby future.
This schedule supports my previous assessment, that there will be no Chinese moonflight in the early 2020s. However I’d like to see more international cooperation, so we can see bigger space stations much faster. That would be awesome.
Original document: China Manned Space Flight Program