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China unveiled on Tuesday a replica of its first permanently crewed space station, which would replace the international community's orbiting laboratory and symbolises the country's major ambitions beyond Earth. The 17-metre (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.
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.
A new generation of space stations which will allow humanity to reach out further into the universe could become a reality within the next three years. The first base - known as the Deep Space Gateway - will orbit between Earth and the moon and is expected to launch as early as 2020. The habitat will support critical research and open up opportunities for future exploration of deep space, as well as a return to the moon and missions to Mars.
A new company called Axiom Space has a plan to launch a commercial space station in the next few years, which would get its start as a module attached to the ISS. It’s easy to shrug off a plan from a company you’ve never heard of, but Axiom has some big names on board. For example, it’s led by one Mike Suffredini, who managed NASA’s ISS program for 10 years. The time is fast approaching that we need to come up with a successor to the ISS, and Axiom’s commercial station could be it.