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China’s Future Space Station and Space Telescope Outlined

March 9, 2016 (EIRNS)—China plans to launch an optical space telescope which is being designed to have a field of view 300 times that of Hubble. This will enable it to look at larger regions of the cosmos than Hubble can, in high resolution, explained Zhang Yulin on March 7. Zhang is a National People’s Congress deputy, from the Central Military Commission Equipment Development Department, and described the telescope to People’s Daily.

It is expected that the telescope would be able to capture about 40% of the sky within 10 years of orbit. To ensure that the telescope will remain functional and able to conduct scientific studies for a decade, it will be co-orbited with the up-coming space station, and designed to allow astronauts to service it, when it docks with the station. NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope underwent a number of servicing missions, carried out by Space Shuttle astronauts. That meant that Hubble had to wait until a Shuttle could be launched, whereas in the Chinese plan, the crew will be available for servicing the telescope all the time.

Speaking to media on the sidelines of the National People’s Congress, Zhou Jianping, a top official in the manned space program, added some detail to the space station project. The core module, he said, will be launched in 2018, with the complex expected to be completed in 2020. There had been previous indications that it would be delayed, but apparently it is back on a faster track. The station will require new selection criteria for astronauts, said Zhou.

"Astronauts will need to carry out a greater variety of missions than before, so a greater variety of astronauts [is] needed."

NASA underwent a similar progression, moving into the Space Shuttle era.

Zhou explained that "the mission of the space station is to become China’s national laboratory in space, and support scientists’ work on cutting-edge scientific exploration, space technology research and development, and utilization of space resources."

Research into new materials is a priority, and growing food on orbit, will be tested, "under the long-day and short-day scenarios."