With the International Space Station floating above for quite some time now China is feeling a little left out -- but not for long. They’re currently prepping the first module of their very own space station and its set to launch later this year!
The first piece of China’s Space Station, dubbed Tiangong-1 (Heavenly Palace), will serve as a rendezvous and docking platform for China’s future spacecraft. After they get the main module in Earth’s orbit they will launch an unmanned Shenzhou-8 spaceship to pull off China’s first space docking.
China’s Space Station will be quite a bit smaller than the ISS, coming in at a mere 60 tons compared to the 450 tons of ISS floating around up there. When complete it will consist of the primary module, docking ports and two experiment modules.
Sadly, it seems the ISS and China’s Space Station may not be hooking up. The two stations have different docking systems which wouldn’t allow for full cooperation between them. Hopefully something changes -- it would be a real shame if the folks on the ISS and China’s Space Station couldn’t hang out and run collaborative experiments. I guess we’ll just have to see what happens.