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China’s Next-Gen Rocket Could Take 7 to Moon, Space Station

China’s space chiefs hope to launch their latest Shenzhou craft by 2027 and have set their sights on deep space missions too

A Long March-2F carrier rocket, carrying the Shenzhou-16 spacecraft and three astronauts, takes off from the launching area of Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center for a crewed mission to China's Tiangong space station, near Jiuquan, Gansu province, China May 30, 2023. China Daily via REUTERS
A Long March-2F carrier rocket, carrying the Shenzhou-16 spacecraft and three astronauts, takes off from the launching area of Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center to China's Tiangong space station. Photo: Reuters


China’s next-generation of spacecraft will be able to carry up to seven astronauts and take on deep space exploration.

A veteran Chinese astronaut said the crewed spacecraft may be ready to fly for the first time between 2027 and 2028.

“In the future, a new generation of spacecraft will be used on crewed lunar missions, to build our space station, and for deep-space exploration,” the state-run Guangzhou Daily cited Yang as saying at a Chinese university on Monday.

Recent tests on the return capsule of the next-generation spacecraft have been “very successful”, with their first flights planned to take place between 2027 and 2028, said Yang, currently deputy chief designer of China’s manned spaceflight project.


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China’s manned space flights began in 2003 when former fighter pilot, Yang Liwei, was sent into orbit in a small bronze-coloured capsule, the Shenzhou-5, becoming China’s first man in space and an instant hero cheered by millions at home.

Since China’s space station became operational late last year, the focus has returned to a project to send astronauts to the moon by 2030, with engineers recently disclosing more details of the plan – from the type of carrier rockets to be used to the spacecraft transporting astronauts and other equipment.

China’s current Shenzhou spacecraft, based on Russia’s Soyuz, can transport up to three astronauts to low-Earth orbit. It consists of a life-support and propulsion module, an in-orbit module for short-term human habitation, and a re-entry capsule for their return to earth.

The new generation of crewed spacecraft will comprise just two parts – the propulsion and the return modules – to allow for bigger modules and larger carrying capacity of up to seven people, Zhang Bainan, chief designer of the trial version of the new-generation spacecraft, said in 2020.

The return module’s high heat resistance also allows much of it to be re-used.


  • Reuters with additional editing by Sean O’Meara


Read more:

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China’s Shenzhou-16 Rocket Takes Astronauts up to Space Station

Japan Plans to Beam Solar Power From Space by 2025 – engadget

South Korea Halts Space Rocket Take-Off Hours Before Launch

China’s Secret Spacecraft Returns to Earth After 9 Months



Sean O'Meara

Sean O'Meara is an Editor at Asia Financial. He has been a newspaper man for more than 30 years, working at local, regional and national titles in the UK as a writer, sub-editor, page designer and print editor. A football, cricket and rugby fan, he has a particular interest in sports finance.


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