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China Mulls Advanced Spacecraft Capable Of Moon Landing

9 March 2017, 11:22 am EST By Amy Gordon Tech Times
A Long March 2F rocket carrying the country's first space laboratory module Tiangong-1 lifts off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center on September 29, 2011 in Jiuquan, Gansu province of China. The country is now gearing up to launch its first spacecraft that could be operated in low-Earth orbit and also capable of moon landing. This advanced spacecraft will be capable of carrying three or four astronauts to the moon.  ( Lintao Zhang | Getty Images )

China is on its way to develop a progressive new spacecraft. This spaceship is expected to be able to be operable both in the lower orbit of Earth, as well as capable of landing on the moon.

This is another attempt for the Chinese space operation, which is on equal footing with the U.S. regard to statistics in the context of launching rockets in 2016.

The new advanced spacecraft will reportedly be recoverable and boast a much better capacity than other foreign spaceships. It will also have rooms for several astronauts per Zhang Bainan, chief designer of manned spacecraft at China Aerospace Science and Technology Cooperation.

Currently, only the Orion spacecraft from the U.S. - which is being developed by the ESA and NASA - is equipped for a moon landing operation and is anticipated to ferry astronauts to the space in the next six years.

The Chinese Spacecraft: Competition For Orion?

The next-gen spacecraft from China will not only be reusable, but also offer a higher carrying capacity when compared to its foreign counterparts. This craft will apparently be able to carry up to six members in the lower orbit of Earth and nearly three or four astronauts during a moon landing operation per Zhang.

While China was not considered competition in the past 40 years in the context of first-gen manned space vehicles, the advanced craft will be a different story and put the country on the roadmap feels the chief designer of the craft.

Whether the craft will be at par or better the Orion which will take to space in 2023 remains to be seen.

Future Chinese Space Missions

In July or August 2020, a Chinese spaceship will be sent to orbit and land on Mars and install a rover along with it. The spacecraft will land on the northern half of Mars while the rover will inspect the external part. The journey will take around seven months and the data will be received by 2021.

Although, China was a late entrant in the field of crewed spacecraft - with its debut in 2003 by sending its first man into space - it has proven its ability by showing rapid growth since then. Two astronauts spent a month in a Chinese space station in late 2016. Along with this, a fully operating and permanent crewed space station is ready to start its functions within five years. Moreover, a fully manned lunar mission is also on the cards.

China has already taken its first steps in space travel and is counted in the big three. In 2016, it beat Russia in the number of rocket launches for the first time ever and was at par with the U.S. by launching 22 rockets. Russia launched 17 rockets but U.S. could have launched a few more if Space X's Falcon 9 rocket launch hadn't met with a setback.

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