An article by Dr. Morris Jones takes issue with China referring to Tiangong 1 as a laboratory, rather than a space station.

At first blush, that criticism seems trite. The Chinese government is entitled to call its space station a laboratory if it wants to. Others may or may not choose to go along. (We have called Tiangong 1 a space station and will continue to do so.)

This does inspire us to wonder, though, why does China eschew the use of the term “space station”? Since the Chinese space program seems to be motivated primarily by prestige, we would logically expect Tiangong 1 to be described in the most grandiose and prestigious terms possible.

Has the political fiasco of the International Space Station program soured the term? Will space-station developers have to use euphemisms like “laboratory” in the future?

Perhaps we’re reading too much into this. Or perhaps not.

Written by Astro1 on June 23rd, 2012 , Space Stations

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