China is currently working to launch its own orbital space station dubbed the China Space Station or CSS. The orbital space station is expected to begin operations in 2022 following a 2019 launch.
China’s Manned Space Agency in collaboration with the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) has invited applications from UN member states to conduct experiments on China’s space station (CSS). The announcement and application instructions were announced on Monday at a ceremony hosted by UNOOSA and the Permanent Mission of China to the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Vienna. The initiative is expected to be a major step in promoting international cooperation in human spaceflight and activities related to space exploration.
A handbook detailing the CSS’s architecture and operation was also released during the event. The handbook contains information about what CSS will look like and how it’ll operate in space. The Chinese space station will be positioned at nearly the same altitude to the International Space Station (ISS), about 250 miles up. However, the station will be at a different inclination of about 41 degrees.
“This is space diplomacy in action,” UNOOSA Director Simonetta Di Pippo said in the statement. Pippo added that he appreciates China’s partnership and support on the initiative, and look forward to seeing many interesting applications from United Nations member states.
Shi Zhongjun, China’s Ambassador to the United Nations said the China Space Station belongs to China and also to the world.
As per the UN press statement, there are three possibilities for orbital experiments in the first round of opportunities. The joining participants will be allowed to conduct experiments inside or outside the CSS using payloads they develop. They will also have the option to perform experiments inside the station using facilities provided by China. The opportunity is open for public and private organizations including institutes, universities and companies. The last date for entry submission is Aug. 31, 2018.