China's Tiangong space station is scheduled to be completed before the end of this year and will become a massive spacecraft with a combined weight of nearly 100 metric tons, according to a program leader. Zhou Jianping, chief designer of the nation's manned space program, said the assembly phase of the Tiangong program will begin in May and will involve the launch of two astronaut crews, two space labs and two cargo ships. Zhou made the remarks at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing before the opening of the fifth session of the 13th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference. The scientist is a member of the CPPCC National Committee, the top political advisory body in China.
"We will send six astronauts in the Shenzhou XIV and XV mission crews. The Shenzhou XIV crew will be responsible for monitoring the docking between the Tianhe core module and the two space labs and then configuring the two labs," he said. "The Shenzhou XV crew will fly to the station around year's end to meet their Shenzhou XIV peers and that will be an exciting moment all of us are eager to see."