Eighteen project proposals from scientists around the world for space experiments onboard China’s future space station — which is expected to begin operations in 2022 — have been shortlisted for further evaluation, and the final selections will be announced in June, China Manned Space Agency said on Feb 22.
The agency and the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs issued an announcement in May about the cooperation opportunities for scientists around the world.
By October, 42 applications from 27 countries had been submitted, with their proposed experiments covering nine areas, including space medicine, space life science and fundamental physics.
An expert panel was formed by the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs and the China Manned Space Agency to appraise the candidates and picked the 18 shortlisted projects.
Next, the application teams will work out project implementation plans with technical support from China.
China said in May that it would welcome all member states of the United Nations to cooperate in and jointly utilize its future space station, which is expected to be built around 2022.
The multimodule space station, named Tiangong, or Heavenly Palace, will be mainly composed of three parts－a core module attached to two space labs－having a combined weight of 66 metric tons, Zhou Jianping, chief designer of the nation’s manned space program, said in April.
China will start putting together the station around 2020, according to government plans.
First, a Long March 5B heavy-lift rocket, which is being developed by Chinese scientists, will put the station’s core module into orbit that year.
Next, about four manned space flights will be made to send astronauts to assemble the station.
The space station is expected to be fully operational around 2022 and is set to operate for at least 10 years, according to the agency.
In 2024, it likely will become the world’s only space station if the United States-led International Space Station is retired that year as planned.