Sun, China's Space Telescope, which will compete with Hubble

Sun, China's Space Telescope, which will compete with Hubble

China is working on the development of a space telescope capable of providing astronomical research capabilities that are not inferior to the Hubble telescope, and if everything goes according to plan, the observatory could be launched as early as 2024.

A Chinese station called "Tiangun" will soon join the ISS in orbit, and in a few years' time it will replace it. On board this structure, which will consist of three modules, Chinese Tykonavts will conduct experiments and prepare for future long-term flights.

New observatory in orbit

Once completed, the Chinese station will also be joined by a space telescope called "Suntan", which is scheduled to be launched in 2024 and will have a mirror of two metres in diameter comparable to Hubble. However, the Chinese Observatory should use a field of vision 300 times greater than that of its old American cousin, while maintaining the same resolution.

A wide range of view will allow the telescope to observe up to 40 percent of the sky for ten years in near-violet and visible light.

In March last year, Zhou Jiangping, the main developer of China's human space flight programme, announced that he would be orbiting the Earth in the same orbit as the Chinese space station and could occasionally be in contact with the future forepost responsible for the support of the crew.

Meanwhile, the Hubble Telescope required several flights with United States shuttles to repair, upgrade and replace various components and systems, so the ability to manage these operations directly in orbit would be a "plus" for China.

In the meantime, four research centres are being built to analyse the data collected by the telescope; the most notable tasks are the study of the properties of dark matter and dark energy or the formation and evolution of galaxies; and the observatory will also assist in the detection and monitoring of transneptunal objects and near-Earth asteroids.

In the meantime, China is preparing to conduct eleven launches between this year and the next to collect its station in orbit. The basic module called "Tianhe" is expected to be launched from Wenchan base in the coming weeks on board the Changzheng-5 missile.