China's space station will enter a new phase of application and development that will span more than 10 years after the completion of its construction this year, according to a press conference on Sunday.
The initial plan is to launch two manned spaceships and two cargo spacecraft every year during the new phase, Hao Chun, director of the China Manned Space Agency, said at the press conference.
Astronauts will stay in orbit for a long term, carry out space scientific and technological experiments, and maintain the space station, Hao said.
In order to further improve the comprehensive capabilities and technological level of the country's manned space program, a new generation of carrier rockets and manned spacecraft will be developed, Hao said. The new-generation carrier rockets and the return capsule of the new manned spacecraft will be reusable.
The new-generation manned spacecraft will be capable of carrying seven astronauts, and its payload capacity will also be greatly improved.
In the application and development phase, larger-scale space research experiments and new technology tests will be conducted in fields such as space life science and human body studies, microgravity physics science, space astronomy and Earth science.
In 2023, China plans to launch its first large space survey telescope to carry out wide-area space surveys. "We will conduct cutting-edge scientific research on the formation and evolution of the cosmic structure, dark matter and dark energy, exoplanets and solar bodies, and expect to achieve a number of major innovations," Hao said.