00:08 GMT16 January 2021
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    WENCHANG (Sputnik) - China is set to begin construction of its orbital space station next year, deputy head of the Chang Zheng 5 (Long March 5) launch vehicle project of the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), Qu Yiguang, told reporters.

    "Since the appearance of the Chang Zheng 5 launch vehicle, it has been determined that it will carry out the mission of launching China's largest spacecraft," Qu said.

    "Starting next year, we are going to start carrying out launches as part of the mission to build our country's space station," the official said.

    The station was named "Tiangong" (Heaven's Palace); earlier, two Chinese space laboratories, Tiangong 1 and Tiangong 2 operated in orbit. 

    ​Three Chinese astronauts or six people during a crew change can be on the station simultaneously. The station is expected to be completed by 2022 with a total of 12 missions.

    Last year, China’s first space lab, the Tiangong-2 (“Heavenly Palace”) space station, was successfully deorbited, becoming the country's first opportunity to carry out a long-term plant experiment in space.

    In 2018, China announced the goals the country had set for its lunar program, including exploring both lunar poles by 2030, sending manned missions to the moon and establishing a permanent scientific research station there.

    space station, Space, China
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