China to double the size of Tiangong Space Station

Tiangong Space Station

Context: China plans to expand its space station to six modules from three in coming years, offering astronauts from other nations an alternative platform for near-Earth missions as the NASA-led International Space Station nears the end of its lifespan.

Tiangong Space Station (TSS)

  • TSS is a permanently crewed space station constructed by China and operated by China Manned Space Agency.
  • Placed in: Low Earth orbit between 340 and 450 km above the Earth’s surface.
  • Operational lifetime: More than 15 years. 
  • It has been fully operational since late 2022, hosting a maximum of three astronauts.
  • TSS will weigh 180 metric tons after its expansion to six modules.

International Space Station (ISS)

  • ISS is a modular space station (habitable artificial satellite) and the single largest man-made structure in the low Earth orbit.
  • Launched in 1998, it is a multinational collaborative project involving five participating space agencies:
    • NASA (United States)
    • Roscosmos (Russia)
    • JAXA (Japan)
    • ESA (Europe)
    • CSA (Canada) 
  • The ownership and use of the space station are established by intergovernmental treaties and agreements. 
  • It circles the Earth in roughly 92 minutes and completes 15.5 orbits per day, hosting a maximum of seven astronauts.
  • It serves as a microgravity and space environment research laboratory in which scientific research is conducted in astrobiology, astronomy, meteorology, physics, and other fields.
  • NASA intends to keep operating the ISS until the end of 2030, after which the ISS would be crashed into Point Nemo over the South Pacific Oceanic Uninhabited Area (SPOUA).
Source: The Hindu

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