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.