A delegation from China's National Space Administration is set to hold talks with Roscosmos on the possibility of creating a jointly-run orbital station, Sputnik has learned from a source in the space and rocketry industry.
"The delegation's visit to Moscow is planned for the end of this week. The issue of cooperation in the field of manned programs will be discussed with our Chinese colleagues," the source said.
Roscosmos already has plans to cooperate with China on a variety of space-related projects, including the creation of a super-heavy rocket, which would be necessary for the construction of a large space station and to lift its large components into orbit. In March, Popular Mechanics reported, citing Roscosmos sources, that Russia was considering shifting its human spaceflight cooperation away from the US toward China in the medium to long term.
In 2011, China became the third country in the world after the Soviet Union and the United States to launch an orbital space station. Its Tiangong-1 station reentered the Earth's atmosphere in April 2018 after nearly seven years in orbit. The scientific station was similar in design and purpose to the Soviet Almaz and Salyut series of space stations, and was used among other things to test spacecraft docking procedures and autonomous life support. In 2016, China launched Tiangong-2.
China plans to begin construction on a multi-module station in 2020, with the project set to include three modules and two docking points for spacecraft or additional modules.