A new Space Station has been launched by the Chinese Government. Here are some thoughts on the impact this can have.
China launched Tiangong, its second Space Station, and is now considered to be matching the level of Space Ventures the Russians and Americans had in the 70s.
The launch occurred only a few days ago, on the 15th of September, and even though the endeavor is a bit late on the technological side, it is pretty impressive on the politics scenario.
On the other hand, one cannot help but think that governments are on the brink of losing the edge on Space when more and more private companies aim to go where no one has gone before.
In fact, many of these companies stated that they are interested in establishing a long-term presence outside our little planet, and they don’t want to be dependent on any government-held space structures.
Tiangong Space Station is minuscule when compared to the ISS, but it can support two astronauts for one month, a substantial improvement over the Tiangong-1 station, which only supports two crew members for a record number of 12 days (achieved in 2013).
Tiangong-1 was decommissioned over a tech malfunction and has been decaying – all numbers point out that it will hit Earth in 2017.
Another Tiangong station, Tiangong-3 is expected to replace this new one after it is decommissioned, as all three are considered temporary stations.
The Chinese government is expecting a permanent much larger station to be launched somewhere along 2020 or a few years later. The plans point out to a scale much closer to the ISS.
It is only ironic that the ISS is expected to start declining around that year, and that with budgets to NASA being flattened and relations with Russia being on such a low point, China may get the upper hand.
On the other hand, going back to private companies, SpaceX, Virgin Galactic, and Blue Origin are being expected to help fill the gap left by the NASA budget decrease.
According to my opinion, this isn’t a technological victory, but a political and economic one.
On one hand, we have China’s history and the huge path it undertook regarding development and commerce to reach the financial and economical stability required to pursue these kinds of projects, and on the other, we have the ambition of their plans.
The impact of this launch isn’t so big for the Western World, but the future launches may have a significant impact considering the budget decreases by the US and how private companies are planning on venturing into space.
I think the space station scenario will be interesting to watch around 2020.