In January, China’s Chang’e-4 lunar probe landed successfully on the dark side of the moon. Now the work continues, as China gears up for a series of large-scale space exploration projects, with plans to complete a space station by 2022, and a solar energy farm that will beam electricity to Earth by 2025.
Researchers at China’s applied space engineering and technology center have even gone so far as to run social media giveaways to spread the admittedly impressive news:
10 lucky users who shared the post were selected to receive 1000 RMB each
So what kind of space station can their 8 billion USD budget produce?
Here are some computer generated models:
The space station will feature a core module, plus two outer modules serving as lab areas. It will weigh 66 tonnes, support three people, and function for at least ten years. A life-sized model of the central capsule was displayed last November at Guangdong province’s Zhuhai Air Show.
In the years between 2021 and 2025, Chinese space exploration will be kicking into high gear. Smaller projects will lay the foundation for solar energy capture in space, but China aims to upgrade the station to megawatt-level by 2030. That station would orbit the earth at 36,000 km, before China upgrades to a gigawatt level facility in 2050.
Pang Zhihao from the China Academy of Space Technology expects the development to yield “an inexhaustible source of clean energy for humans”. According to the academy, the project should “reliably supply energy 99% of the time, at six-times the intensity” of Earth-based solar installations.
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Cover photo from “The Wandering Earth”
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