"Tiangong" and the Space Inn: Who will replace the International Space Station?

“Tiangong” and the Space Inn: Who will replace the International Space Station?

The failure of the International Space Station reminds us that its useful life is coming to an end. NASA is considering promoting private space travel. Everyone is waiting for Biden to decide to build a new space station. China’s manned space engineering office has made every effort to build an orbital station, the Global Times reported. The satellite news agency is trying to figure out which projects could be replaced by the “decommissioning” of the International Space Station.

The International Space Station is worth more than $150 billion, exceeding the total budgets of NASA and the Russian Space Agency. Therefore, the construction of alternative stations will be quite complex and expensive. As many analysts have pointed out, the reusable Falcon 9 carrier rocket will reduce the cost of sending cargo into space by $2,000 per kilogram.

In addition, the withdrawal of the existing space station from orbit alone would cost $950 million and take two years, according to NASA’s inspector general.

Countries have now reached a consensus on extending the services of the International Space Station until 2028. As a result, there is little chance of building a space station similar to the one in 2028 or 2030 without a replacement starting in 2021.

According to the Global Times, China’s manned space engineering office decided to focus on the mission and fully complete the Chinese space station.

In 2011, China built the Tiangong-1 and Tiangong-2 space stations. The new space station will be structurally similar to the International Space Station, where astronauts from around the world will be able to work.

At present, the main capsule of the space station and the Long March V B “Yao-2” carrier rocket have arrived at the Wenchang space launch site. Four crew members scheduled for launch in the first half of this year have been selected and are currently undergoing flight training.

It is unclear whether the United States has proposed an alternative space station. According to Hill, the Trump administration is pinning its hopes on the Artemis project and has decided to hand over construction of the near-Earth orbital station to the private sector. National resources will focus on the construction of the lunar orbiting station and the manned landing on the moon. Therefore, it is difficult to know that the new Government will allocate $100 billion to build a new space station.

NASA announced in January 2020 that it had chosen Aon Space to study the construction, launch and docking of the station’s three modules. The first module is scheduled to start in 2024.

Interestingly, the project contractor has two other companies. Musk’s SpaceX was responsible for the launch, and Thales Alegna was responsible for building the capsule. The Space Station program consists of three modules, starting with connecting to the International Space Station and then disengaged in the late 2020s.

By 2021, NASA has allocated $140 million to build the first module. According to Hill, the space station will consist of three parts, one of which will be used for travel.

In recent years, space travel has become one of the preferred directions for space flight in the United States. By 2022, three tourists will be sent to the space station. A week’s flights cost $55 million per person. As early as 2001, the Russian Space Agency carried out a similar project in cooperation with Space Adventures. During this time, seven tourists were sent to space under the space travel program.

After Trump built the space force, the United States saw space as an important direction for national defense. In 2020, the U.S. Department of Defense’s Innovation Agency signed a contract with the Sierra Nevada to build an orbital outpost to deploy troops.

Despite the large number of private-sector projects, the most important thing for the United States is whether the Biden administration decides to replace the International Space Station. This year, the Oval Office will have to make a decision, otherwise it will not be possible to build such a new space station until the old station is withdrawn. In this case, China’s Tiangong could become the new International Space Station.