China plans to have a space station in orbit by 2020，and is now inviting other countries to conduct experiments on the facility.
"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 the China Space Station (CSS)," the UNOOSA said in a notice on May 28th.
The CSS is designed to operate in low-Earth orbit about 400km above the Earth’s surface, with an inclination of approximately 41°~43°. The station will be 66 tons, and may reach 100 tons when docked with several manned spaceships and cargo vehicles. The CSS is designed to host three astronauts and six at most, according to a handbook issued by the Space Agency. By comparison, the current International Space Station has a mass of 460 tons and is considered fully staffed at six people.
"The China Space Station belongs not only to China, but also to the world," said Ambassador Shi Zhongjun, representative of China to the United Nations and other International Organizations in Vienna. He added, "Outer space should become a new domain for promoting the common interests of everyone, rather than a new battlefield for competition and confrontation."
The Space Agency described three types of orbital experiments that could be conducted on the CSS. They can conduct experiments inside by CSS by utilizing experiment payloads developed by selected applicants, or by utilizing experiment facilities provided by China, or conducting experiments outside the CSS by utilizing payloads developed by the applicant nation.
Public and private organizations including institutes, academies, universities and private enterprises with a scientific orientation are eligible to apply by the end of August, the Space Agency said.