ZHUHAI - China unveiled on Tuesday a replica of its first permanently crewed space station, which would replace the international community s orbiting laboratory and symbolises the country s major ambitions beyond Earth.
The 17-metre (55-foot) core module was a star attraction at the biennial Airshow China in the southern coastal city of Zhuhai, the country s main aerospace industry exhibition.
Outside, China s J-10 fighter jet and J-20 stealth fighter wowed spectators as they zoomed across Zhuhai s sky. Back inside, the country displayed its fleet of drones and other military hardware.
Crowds gathered around the cylindrical space station module representing the living and working quarters of the Tiangong -- or "Heavenly Palace" -- which will also have two other modules for scientific experiments and will be equipped with solar panels.
Three astronauts will be permanently stationed in the 60-tonne orbiting lab, which will enable the crew to conduct biological and microgravity research.
Assembly is expected to be completed around 2022 and the station would have a lifespan of around 10 years.
The International Space Station -- a collaboration between the United States, Russia, Canada, Europe and Japan -- has been in operation since 1998 but is due to be retired in 2024.