The latest in Beijing’s increasingly ambitious space programme, a key module of a new permanent space station, has been launched by China.

The Tianhe module was launched from the Wenchang Space Launch Centre on a Long March-5B rocket. It contains living quarters for crew members.

Hopefully, China will be having the new station operational by 2022.

At the moment, the International Space Station is the only one currently in orbit, which China is excluded.

According to BBC, China has been a late starter when it comes to space exploration. It was only in 2003 that it sent its first astronaut into orbit, making it the third country to do so, after the Soviet Union and the US.

Previously, China has sent two space stations into orbit: The Tiangong-1 and Tiangong-2 were trial stations, and simple modules that allowed only relatively short stays by astronauts.

The new, 66-tonne, multi-module Tiangong station is set to be operational for at least 10 years.