China is creating a new spacecraft that can operate in low-Earth orbit and land on the moon.
This is another daring step from the Chinese space operation, which also equaled the number of rockets launched by the United States 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 according to Zhang Bainan, chief designer of manned spacecraft at China Aerospace Science and Technology Cooperation.
Currently, only the Orion spacecraft from the United States, which is being developed by the ESA and NASA, is equipped for a moon landing operation and is anticipated to ferry astronauts to space in the next six years.
The Chinese Spacecraft: Competition For Orion?
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 according to 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, said Zhang.
It remains to be seen if the Chinese spacecraft can match the Orion.
Future Chinese Space Missions
In July or August 2020, a Chinese spaceship will be sent to orbit and land on Mars and deploy 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 United States by launching 22 rockets. Russia launched 17 rockets but the United States could have launched a few more if Space X's Falcon 9 rocket launch hadn't met a setback.