The design, revealed to the Chinese during a nationally televised Chinese New Year broadcast, includes a large module with docking system making up the forward half of the vehicle and a service module section with solar arrays and propellant tanks making up the aft.
The concept is similar to manned concepts for Europe’s Automated Transfer Vehicle.
While used as a target to build Chinese docking and habitation experience, the vehicle’s military mission has some apparent parallels with the U.S. Air Force Manned Orbiting Laboratory (MOL) program cancelled in 1969 before it flew any manned missions. MOL’s objectives were primarily reconnaissance and technology development.
This is all due to happen in the same year that NASA is phasing out the space shuttle: how will Chinese progress in space affect US space policy?