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China Moves Toward Permanent Space Presence

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China is expected to launch its Tiangong 1 space laboratory in the coming days. A country that only eight years ago put its first taikonaut (astronaut) into orbit could, in eight more years, be the only country to possess a permanently-crewed space station.

Chinese media report that the Tiangong 1, or “Heavenly Palace”, is being readied for flight at the Jiuquan launch facility in Inner Mongolia.

The module represents the first element of China’s plan to develop a manned space station, which Beijing hopes will be fully operational by 2020.

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