China on Tuesday launched its module for a space station. The Tiangong-1 module was launched from the Jiquan launch center located near the Gobi Desert abroad a Long March 2F11 rocket. Tiangong-1, which translates to Heavenly Palace-1, will stay aloft for two years. Two experimental modules will be launched in three sections between 2020 and 2022. The module will survey Chinese farmlands using cameras. Beijing has also announced plans of launching an unmanned Shenzhou 8 spacecraft which will undertake remote-controlled docking maneuvers. Joan Johnson-Freese, a space expert at the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, R.I. said that China had the advantage of not starting at the bottom of the learning curve in its human spaceflight program.
China’s experimental module highlights the country’s desire for international prestige and its ambitions to become a major space power.