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China sends three astronauts to finish building their space station by end of the year

China has sent three astronauts to its space station, which is still in construction. They will stay there for six months.

Chen Dong and Can Xuzhe are the crew. Liu Yang was the first Chinese woman to fly in space following a 2012 mission.

They will finish the Tiangong space station before the end of the year.

The orbiting space station will be approximately a fifth the size of ISS. It was assembled last April. After 11 launches, it is expected that it will be complete in November.

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Image: Can Xuzhe and Chen Dong will spend six months in orbit. Pic by Reuters

China is prohibited from participating in the ISS due to US Congress laws restricting NASA’s cooperation with Beijing. This is because of China’s secret space program and close ties to its military.

Through the Wolf Amendment, 2011, US caution about China’s space ambitions was made law.

NASA was prohibited by Congress from using federal funds to engage in bilateral cooperation with the Chinese government and any other organisations associated with it.

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NASA cannot host Chinese delegates in its facilities without authorization from Congress or the Federal Bureau of Investigation. This law also prohibits counter-espionage.

China Manned Space Agency CMSA “guaranteed” foreign astronauts participation in the Tiangong program.

A Chinese government research organization presented plans last year to design and construct a “ultra-large” spacecraft that could be miles wide, which would then be assembled in space piecemeal.

Space construction has been done before. The ISS required 40 assembly flights, and took more than a decade.

The National Natural Science Foundation of China proposes huge constructions that would dwarf the ISS. It measures only 357 feet from end to end and can take decades or even centuries to construct.

The NSFC describes these constructions as “major strategic aeronautic equipment for future use of space resources and exploration of the mysteries in the universe, long-term habitation on orbit”

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