Chinese Space Station to Host a Thousand Science Experiments

China inaugurated its space station, Tiangong, and three Chinese astronauts took off June 17 from the Gobi Desert in an aircraft that docked at Tianhe, the only one of the three space station modules already in orbit.

According to the Portuguese portal "Multinews", there is now a long list of experiments from all over the world waiting to start up at the new Chinese hub. A group of Chinese scientists told Nature magazine that the China Manned Space Agency (CMSA) has provisionally approved more than a thousand experiments, and many of them have already started.

Before April, the International Space Station (ISS) was the only space laboratory in orbit, and many researchers say Tiangong is a very welcome new development for astronomical and ground-based observation and for studying how microgravity and cosmic radiation affect phenomena such as bacterial growth and fluid mixing, Nature explains.

However, some argue that manned space stations are expensive and serve a political purpose rather than a scientific one.

"Increasing scientific access to space brings scientific benefits worldwide, no matter who builds and operates the platforms," explains Julie Robinson, NASA's chief scientist in Washington DC.

"We need more space stations, because one station is definitely not enough," adds Agnieszka Pollo, an astrophysicist at the National Nuclear Research Center in Warsaw, who is part of a team conducting an experiment to study lightning bursts at this new station.

The ISS was launched in 1998 as a partnership between space agencies from the United States, Russia, Europe, Japan, and Canada, where more than three thousand experiments have been conducted. But China is barred from conducting experiments due to US rules that prohibit NASA from using funds to collaborate with China.

Although most of the experiments planned for Tiangong involve Chinese researchers, China assures that its space station will be open to collaboration from all countries, including the United States.

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