Space: More payloads mulled for next station
“Even if it drifted out of our detection zone, Tiangong-2 would enter a self-pilot mode that can guide it back into the zone, ensuring the platform’s safety,” Zhu said. Scientists will also be monitoring more than 300 key data points and have developed more than 300 fault countermeasures for Tiangong-2, ensuring the space lab can leave orbit safely and under control, he said.
Zhu said the success of Tiangong-2 has laid a solid foundation for China’s future space station. “We will keep developing space technologies and transform China into a space powerhouse. These are our dreams.”
Engineers also are busy building the prototypes for main systems onboard China’s first space station, and all development is going according to schedule, Lin said.
“The future space station will allow space applications and tests both within and outside of its cabin,” Lin said. “The application payloads can also be changed in orbit. It will carry 10 times more payloads than Tiangong-2 just at the station’s initial entry into orbit.”
Tiangong-2 carries with it 14 application payloads, weighing around 600 kilograms in total. These payloads involve research ranging from particle physics to material science to remote sensing technologies, according to the space engineering office.
Lyu Congmin, deputy chief engineer of the space applications system for China’s manned space program, said the future space station will conduct more than 30 types of research during its 10-year designed minimum life span, with emphasis on frontier science, space and life sciences.
The station’s interior will house 13 experiment racks, and the exterior will have room for installing telescopes and other major equipment, he said. “Progress on these applications is going smoothly, according to plan.”
Also, China’s manned space program is expanding its global cooperation and exchanges to promote global space technology development, Lin said. In May, China and the UN agency jointly invited other countries to conduct experiments on China’s future space station.
“The Chinese space station will help create globally influential scientific achievements in basic research, and contribute to humanity’s exploration and understanding of the natural world,” he said.