China is developing spacecraft to carry astronauts to the moon and other deep space locations which is not surprising as it was the third country to launch astronauts independently in 2003 when its Shenzhoud-5 spacecraft carried Yang Liwei around the Earth. China is planning to begin construction of a modular space station and organizing missions to the moon and beyond.
A promo video released by China Academy of Space Technology (CAST) recently give the world a glimpse of the country’s new age crewed craft that can travel into deep space. The spacecraft has two modules of which one is a crew module and other a service module to provide power, life support and propulsion to the crew section. The spacecraft is huge almost 9 meters long and can carry around 20 metric tons of cargo. The modular design spacecraft can be constructed to meet varied mission demands while the crew module is partly reusable.
Currently China uses its 8.6 ton Shenzhou spacecraft for carrying astronauts into low earth orbit region for experiments but it lacks capability to handle harsh radiation environment of outer space and it will not be able to survive the high velocity entry back into the earth’s atmosphere. The new spacecraft showcased by China that has still not been christened can go beyond low earth orbit and has capacity to carry 4-6 astronauts. NASA too is not far behind and is developing Orion Spacecraft for travel into deep space with a service module built by Europe that will be main crew vehicle for NASA’s Artemis Luna Exploration program. While SpaceX is building Starship which will be a reusable launch technology to help humans setup colonies on Mars China will make its first un-crewed test flight during early part of 2020. Space officials of China have stated that they are looking to start crewed missions to the moon by 2030.