A senior Chinese astronaut has indicated that China’s next-generation crewed spacecraft may fly for the first time between 2027 and 2028. It has the capacity to transport up to seven astronauts. The historic flight of Yang Liwei, a former fighter pilot, aboard the Shenzhou-5 spacecraft in 2003 marked China’s entry into manned space exploration.

He was launched into space in a little bronze capsule. His expedition established him as China’s first man in space and made him a national hero revered by millions.

“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,” Yang, who is presently the deputy chief designer of China’s manned spaceflight project, said on 17 July at a Chinese university, according to the state-run Guangzhou Daily.

According to Yang’s statement, recent testing on the future spacecraft’s return capsule have been “very successful,” opening the way for its initial flights, which are expected to take place between 2027 and 2028.

The next-generation spacecraft flew for the first time in 2020, marking a key milestone in China’s space exploration efforts. With the successful launch of China’s space station last year, renewed attention has been drawn to the ambitious aim to send astronauts to the moon by 2030.

According to Reuters, engineers have been actively working on improving the idea, disclosing intricate specifics like as the carrier rockets to be used and the spacecraft’s structure for transporting astronauts and supplies.

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

The new spacecraft will have only two modules – propulsion and return – in order to accommodate larger modules and greatly boost the carrying capacity to seven people. In 2020, Zhang Bainan, chief designer of the new-generation spacecraft’s testing prototype, explained this design choice. Furthermore, the return module’s high heat resistance allows for extensive reusability.

Categorized in: