Next Generation Chinese Human Spacecraft to Fly in June

Next generation Chinese human spacecraft
Next generation Chinese human spacecraft

China’s news launch vehicle, Long March -7, will carry a scaled-down version of a next-generation Chinese human spacecraft on its inaugural flight in June.

The top of the capsule, seen in designs and apparent development above, packs parachutes, GNSS antenna and antenna specially designed to prevent radio silence during hypersonic re-entry….

The successor to the currently-used Shenzhou spacecraft – the 11th mission of which will take two astronauts to Tiangong-2 late this year – will be made from advanced aluminium alloys in order to reduce the vessel’s weight to allow more crew and cargo.

While Shenzhou re-entry capsules return to Earth and touch down on land at Siziwang Banner in Inner Mongolia, the new capsule can also be recovered at sea. It has not thus far been stated if this capability will be tested in June….

Zhang Bonan, chieft designer of the Chinese space station, told CCTV that the second-generation spacecraft could be developed quickly if approved by the state.

The conical spacecraft is similar to the American Orion and Apollo capsules and would be capable of carrying between two and six crew members. The capsule would be attached to service modules of different sizes depending upon the mission.

The baseline spacecraft would weigh 14 tons, with a 20 metric ton version featuring a longer service module. The vehicles would be used to support near-Earth, asteroid, lunar and Mars missions.

The new spacecraft would be launched aboard Long March-5 and Long March-7 rockets due to their increased weights.

China is currently flying Shenzhou spacecraft that are similar in appearance and size to the Russian Soyuz transport. The Shenzhou is capable of carrying three crew members.

  • Jeff2Space

    Sounds like a Chinese equivalent of Orion.

  • windbourne

    But at the fraction of the price.

  • Where is the Capsule Fairy that is handing out all these? She’s visited the US 3 times (4 if you could Blue), and Russia/India/China once each. She gets around.

  • Hans-Jörg Liersch

    First they copied Soyuz. Now they copy Apollo?!?

  • Paul_Scutts

    The “new” capsule design by the Chinese shows a significant departure from the Russian design. It indicates that they are either, could be getting serious about Mars or that the US designs are just easier to acquire. 🙂

  • delphinus100

    To be fair, Boeing (CST-100) and Lockheed-Martin (Orion) chose not to re-invent the wheel by going with the known characteristics of the Apollo shape too. But neither of them is Apollo on the inside…

  • passinglurker

    There are only so many ways to make a practical space capsule

  • Michael Vaicaitis

    Why is it that Dragon weighs half (or less) of all other contemporary capsule designs?.

  • Hans-Jörg Liersch

    Apollo has always been a compromise regarding the interior space. I would consider SpaceX Dragon as far superior. At present China is years behind current US designs and once the new chinese capsule flies it will be behind a manned reusable Dragon again. Especially if this Dragon features powered landings.

  • savuporo

    Only as much as rest of the world copies Chinese rockets. They invented the things, after all

  • windbourne

    they developed solid fuel and never had decent control even in short distance. Americans developed liquid fuel , dr. goddard, and america, and russia, developed rocket controls.

  • passinglurker

    It’s about more than interior space. The shape also defines mass as well as drag coefficients going both ways. simply put making it tall and round like dragon would increase the mass relative to amount of drag the blunt end provides for decelerating the capsule on reentry. this isn’t that big of a deal coming back from leo, but I imaging coming back from the moon or landing on mars dragon needs its spiffy new “supersonic retro propulsion” to survive the maneuver whereas a short straight cone like china’s “next gen” capsule can ;(like apollo) come back with little more than its heat shield and parachutes all while maintaining an aerodynamic enough shape that it can still be stuck on the end of a rocket without a fairing. (which would complicate launch escape systems)

    Boring and old fashion yes, but what do you expect from a program that’s still playing catchup? and really the more space ships the better I say 🙂

  • mzungu

    Why not… get’s the job done minimizing R&D cost. You can try reinventing the wheel, but it will end up being round, no matter how fancy it gets