Tiangong up close

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Tiangong – or ‘Heavenly Palace’ – is a new space station project solely led by the China National Space Administration (CNSA). It’s currently in its early stages of deployment, with space laboratory Tiangong-1 launched in 2011 and a more advanced lab and cargo ship, Tiangong-2, planned to arrive in the next 12 or so months. Tiangong-3 is scheduled to join it in 2015 with a view to eventually turning temporary living quarters into a multi-module space station. By 2022 at the latest, a much larger Tiangong space station will rival the likes of Mir and the ISS, with a long-term habitat for up to three astronauts.