China is launching a rival to the International Space Station (ISS) – and it wants to share its new toy.
The China Manned Space Agency and the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) have announced a partnership that will let UN member states conduct experiments on and even send astronauts to the Chinese space station, due to start operating in the 2020s.
The UN and China say they are keen to get more nations involved in space activities. “This is an exciting opportunity to further build the space capacity of developing countries and increase understanding of the benefits space can bring to humankind,” said UNOOSA director Simonetta Di Pippo.
China is excluded from the ISS because of a US government ban on its participation.
It’s not clear if the other ISS partners – Russia, Japan, Canada and the member countries of the European Space Agency – will have access to China’s station.
Later this year China will launch space lab Tiangong-2 to practise the skills needed to build the station.