A core module prototype of China's space station and a prototype of China's new-generation manned spacecraft arrived at the launch site in south China's Hainan Province after a week of ocean and rail transport, the China Manned Space Engineering Office (CMSEO) announced Monday.
The core module will take part in joint rehearsals with the Long March-5B carrier rocket at the Wenchang Space Launch Center while the new manned spacecraft will be launched by the rocket's maiden flight in the first half of this year.
This means the building of China's space station in space will begin soon, the CMSEO said.
The core module, named Tianhe (harmony of the heavens), will function as the command and control center of the space station. It is 16.6 meters long with a diameter of 4.2 meters and a takeoff weight of 22.5 tonnes.
As the largest spacecraft ever developed by China, Tianhe will accommodate three astronauts and serve as a space laboratory to carry out scientific research and technological verifications, the CMSEO said.
The new-generation manned spacecraft is 8.8 meters long and has a takeoff weight of 21.6 tonnes. It will be used for transporting crew to the space station and to conduct China's future manned lunar missions.
China is scheduled to complete the construction of the space station around 2022.
The Long March-5B rocket is scheduled to arrive at the launch site in early February, the CMSEO said.