The CSS will be smaller than the International Space Station (ISS), coming in at about 55 tons. Here are its key features.
UNOOSA Director Simonetta Di Pippo praised the Chinese space program, as one of the most "technologically advanced in the world".
China is collaborating with the United Nations (UN) to help arrange worldwide scientific experiments aboard the country's as-yet unbuilt space station.
The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) and China's Manned Space Agency (CMSA) have invited applications from United Nations Member States to conduct experiments on-board China's Space Station (CSS). Its mass could increase to 100 tons or more when several manned spacecraft and cargo vessels are docked with it. Nevertheless, the space endeavors of the country have always remained limited.
When will it be launched?
"In practice, the orbital inclination of a space station can not be smaller than the latitude of the most-northern launch facility used to support assembly of or logistics for the space station". When completed, it will orbit at a height between 340 kilometers to 450 km (pdf, p.10).
As a developing country itself, China stands ready to help other developing countries in their development of space technology and space capacity building in particular, he said. The other two experiment modules, Wentian, or "quest for the heavens", and Mengtian, or "dreaming of the heavens", will join it later.
What will China do with it?
It's possible that at some point, for a brief span, China may be the only country with an operational space station. The ISS was originally planned for use to 2020, which was then extended to 2024.
Now all that China has to do is to actually build the station - not at all an easy feat. Up to six astronauts will be able to stay at a time for at least 180 days, and will explore topics such as how space living affects humans, microgravity physics, and material science. "Guided by the idea of a shared future, the China space station will become a common home in space for all humankind".
China's exploration into outer space has been at the core of global attention since the launch of the first Chinese satellite in 1970. "Through the CSS, we would like to build up a model of honest mutually beneficial cooperation among countries in the peaceful exploration and use of outer space", said Ambassador Shi Zhongjun, representative of China to the United Nations and other International Organizations in Vienna.
Interested public and private organizations, including institutes, academies, universities and private enterprises with scientific orientations, can identify their appropriate models of cooperation on board CSS, may it be the growth of a space plant, or even the accommodation of an astronaut, said the ambassador.