China ready to launch first lab module for Tiangong space station

China will launch the first of two lab modules for its first permanent space station—Tiangong—as early as today. The mission

Rockets carrying pieces of the Tiangong space station

China is set to launch the first of two lab modules for Tiangong, its first permanent space station, as early as today – Photo: CMSA

China will launch the first of two lab modules for its first permanent space station—Tiangong—as early as today.

The mission follows the successful launch of the station’s core module, Tianhe, last year. A second lab module and a telescope will mark the completion of Tiangong, which is expected to begin operation toward the end of this year. China has demonstrated ambitions in space exploration and made multiple achievements in recent years, including by sending probes to the Moon and the Mars.

Expect a successful launch and that China will get one step further toward the completion of its own space station. This achievement will significantly boost China’s status in the outer space, as the International Space Station will retire in 2024. Meanwhile, Chinese ambitions will face challenges from the intensifying space competition between Washington and Beijing. Concerned about China’s advancing space technologies and their military potential, Washington has sanctioned the Chinese company responsible for the country’s most ambitious space missions. Although the partnership with Russia will help its in lunar exploration program, China’s worsened diplomatic relations with major western countries and the Russian invasion of Ukraine have dampened the prospects of a multinational space endeavor led by Beijing.