The public has seen China’s next-generation crewed spacecraft, which launched on a demonstration flight last year.
The capsule, which has previously flown, is on display at the Airshow China 2021 in Zhuhai, Guangdong Province. The space capsule, which will be launched in May 2020 on a Long March 5B rocket, will be larger than the country’s current Shenzhou spacecraft. Chinese space officials claim that the new space capsule will be reusable and will improve on the criteria of reliability and safety.
Huang Kewu, deputy chairman of the manned lunar exploration general department, said the new space capsule will be essential to China’s spaceflight future in an interview with China Central Television (CCTV). He was working at the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation’s Fifth Research Institute (CASC).
“Our manned lunar exploration and space station activities in the future will require a new generation of manned spacecraft,” Huang told CCTV. “A new type of human space vehicle has been tested, and it can carry six to seven astronauts, whereas our Shenzhou spacecraft can only carry three.”
The next-generation manned spacecraft is China’s largest return and re-entry spacecraft, with a launch mass of 21.6 tonnes and the most propellant. Last year, some of the new technology were successfully tested during the inaugural flight.
The success of Test Flight:
On May 5, 2020, a Long March 5B rocket launched the prototype next-generation spacecraft into orbit from China’s Wenchang Space Launch Center in Wenchang, Hainan Province. The spacecraft, which is designed to transport both people and cargo, arrived safely on May 8 at the Dongfeng landing site.
Nearly 1,000 supplies were carried on the right side of the vehicle to test the spacecraft’s payload capability. A folding table and a toilet were installed on the craft’s left side as a living room for astronauts.
According to the China Manned Space Agency, the experimental spaceship traveled in orbit for two days and 19 hours, performing many space scientific and technology tests (CMSA). “We’ve made substantial advances in thermal protection and precision control for the return and re-entry, as well as engine design and damage-free landing,” Huang said.
“Achievements in manned space transportation technologies have enabled us to go from trailing to jogging alongside the pacemakers, laying a solid technological foundation for our future manned lunar spacecraft,” he continued.