(CTN NEWS) – China is expected to launch its inaugural reusable spacecraft as early as 2027, as revealed by the deputy chief engineering designer of the nation’s manned space program, Yang Liwei.
Yang, who was China’s first astronaut, disclosed to Guangzhou Daily on Monday that the upcoming spacecraft would have the capacity to transport seven astronauts.
He further emphasized that this innovative vehicle would serve a pivotal function in China’s future endeavors, including the construction of their space station and missions to the moon.
Manned Spacecraft to Introduce Reusability and Enhanced Heat Resistance for Cost-effective Missions
As per the China Manned Space Engineering Office, the upcoming spacecraft will possess reusability for missions in both near-Earth orbit and deep-space exploration.
In 2020, a full-scale prototype of the spacecraft underwent a successful 67-hour test flight, propelled by a Long March 5 rocket.
It incorporates novel materials and structures that enhance its heat resistance, surpassing that of China’s Shenzhou spacecraft by three to four times.
These advanced materials can withstand temperatures as high as 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit during re-entry.
Additionally, the weight of the heat-resistant structure has been reduced by over 30 percent. Another notable feature is the spacecraft’s reusability design.
Once the return capsule is examined and its “coating” replaced, it will be prepared for the next mission.
This means that key components of the spacecraft can be reused up to 10 times, potentially leading to a significant reduction in launch costs.
China’s Upcoming Manned Spacecraft to Feature Enhanced Design and Capacity for Moon Landing Program
Last month, Zhou Jianping, the chief designer of China’s manned space program, informed state broadcaster CCTV that the latest iteration of the spacecraft maintains a “blunt bullet-head shape,” while offering a larger internal space compared to previous versions.
He stated, “The design has been optimized to feature two compartments instead of three, resulting in enhanced safety and improved cost-effectiveness.”
With the capacity to accommodate seven astronauts, the forthcoming Chinese spacecraft will stand on par with the latest American manned spacecraft, namely SpaceX’s Dragon V2 and Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner.
In contrast, NASA’s Orion MPCV can accommodate six astronauts.
Measuring 8.8 meters and weighing 21.6 tonnes, the Chinese spacecraft is twice the size of the Dragon V2, which weighs approximately 9.5 tonnes.
China’s crewed moon landing program will utilize this new spacecraft, working in conjunction with a dedicated lunar landing spaceship, specialized lunar spacesuits, manned rovers.
And other necessary equipment to accomplish the ambitious goal of landing astronauts on the moon by 2030.
As of now, the spacecraft does not have an official name.
The China Manned Space Engineering Office announced on its official WeChat page last Friday that a competition will soon be initiated to name both the new-generation spacecraft and the lunar landing spaceship.
Additionally, the office issued a call on Monday for universities, research institutions, and tech companies to submit scientific payloads to be transported to the moon alongside the lander by 2030.
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