The Chinese National Foundation of Natural Sciences considers such a station to be “of strategic importance for the future use of space resources, exploration of the universe and long-term orbital orbit.”
The foundation, which is under the direct control of the Ministry of Science and Technology, wants scientists to develop methods to make such a station as light as possible, thereby minimizing the amount of material to be transported into orbit. This preliminary study alone would cost around 2 million euros.
The cost of building such a station would literally be astronomical. Former NASA engineer Professor Mason Peck is the only real problem with this project. Peck: “Construction has its challenges, of course, but they are mainly related to the scale at which it occurs. However, putting all the materials into orbit costs an incredible amount of money.
For comparison, the International Space Station (ISS) is around 100 meters long and cost nearly 100 billion euros to build. The cost of building a station ten times the size would be enormous.
The usual method is to build pieces on Earth and connect them in space, but using 3D printers can speed up this process, Peck says. Then only the raw materials need to be sent.
China already has a space station under construction, but this Tiangong station is on the same order of magnitude as the ISS. Chinese astronauts are currently working in orbit from the Tianhe nuclear module at this station.
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