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China unveils 'Heavenly Palace' space station

 International Desk

 Published: 07:01 PM, 9 November 2018   Updated: 07:01 PM, 9 November 2018



China unveiled on Tuesday a replica of its first permanently crewed space station, which would replace the international community's orbiting laboratory and symbolizes the country's major ambitions beyond Earth.

The 17-meter (55-foot) core module was a star attraction at the biennial Airshow China in the southern coastal city of Zhuhai, the country's main aerospace industry exhibition

The model represented the living and working space of the Tiangong -- or ‘Heavenly Palace’ -- which will also have two other modules for scientific experiments and will be equipped with solar panels

Three astronauts will be permanently stationed in the 60-tonne orbiting lab, which will enable the crew to conduct biological and microgravity research.

Assembly is expected to be completed around 2022 and the station would have a lifespan of around 10 years.

The International Space Station -- a collaboration between the United States, Russia, Canada, Europe, and Japan -- has been in operation since 1998 but is due to be retired in 2024.

China will then have the only space station in orbit, though it will be much smaller than the ISS which weighs 400 tonnes and is as large as a football pitch