China has launched the first module of a new permanent space station, the latest in Beijing’s increasingly ambitious space program.
The Tianhe module was launched from the Wenchang Space Launch Centre on a Long March-5B Y2 rocket.
China hopes to have the new station operational by 2022.
Currently, the only space station in orbit is the International Space Station (ISS), from which China is excluded.
China has been a late starter when it comes to space exploration. It was only in 2003 that it sent its first astronaut into orbit, making it the third country to do so, after the Soviet Union and the US.
So far, China has sent two previous space stations into orbit. The Tiangong-1 and Tiangong-2 were trial stations though, allowing only relatively short stays for astronauts.