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US expert: Launch of Tiangong-2 a 'great leap'


09-17-2016 15:34 BJT

Full coverage: China Tiangong-2 Space Lab Launch

A NASA veteran says China can have one of the world’s leading space programs in the next two to three years. Astro-biologist Keith Cowing describes the recent launch of the Tiangong-2 as a “great leap.”

“Tiangong-2 is very important because it’s the second space station that China has launched. It’s improved on the earlier version. This will be used for several years, and then it will be followed by a larger and more complex space station. This is how you learn to do things in space. This is the way the US did it, Russia did it,” Cowing said.

“This is a very significant space station because it can also be refueled, which the earlier one could not. The Tiangong 2 also will last a lot longer. It has a matter of fact, the first mission, Shenzhou 11 is going up in October, and they will be up there for over a month. So, that now is twice the length of the previous mission. Every mission gets longer and more complex, that's what China is doing.

“China, within two or three years, could be seen as an equal competitor to the Russian goverment’s space manned program, and the U.S.’s, the Europeans’, and the Japanese space program.”

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