China has unveiled to the public for the first time its next-generation crewed spacecraft. The once-flown capsule is now on display in Zhuhai City, Guangdong Province.
Space.com reported that the next-generation crewed spacecraft was once launched on a demonstration spaceflight in 2020 on a Long March 5B rocket. It is larger than the Shenzhou spacecraft that is currently used today. According to Chinese space officials, the new capsule extends its spacecraft's reliability and safety qualities, and it is reusable.
China's Moon Exploration Capsule
The next-generation crewed spacecraft is now on display in the Airshow China 2021 to showcase the country's latest development of cutting-edge space technology.
Huang Kewu, China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation's (CASC) deputy of the crewed lunar exploration general department at the Fifth Research Institute, told China Central Television (CCTV) during an interview that the new moon exploration capsule will be crucial in the future spaceflight missions of the country.
"The new generation of manned spacecraft is designed to meet the needs of our manned lunar exploration and space station operations in the future," Huang told CCTV.
He added that the next-generation crewed space vehicle had been tested before, noting that it has the capacity to carry six to seven astronauts compared to Shenzhou spacecraft, which can only carry three astronauts. It is also China's largest return and re-entry spacecraft with the largest propellant with a launch mass of 21.6 tons.
Test flight for China's Next-Gen Capsule
According to a 2020 report by Space.com, the China National Space Administration (CNSA) has completed the vital test launch of the next-generation capsule on May 5 aboard the heavy-lift Long March 5 rocket from China's Wenchang Space Launch Center, Wenchang, Hainan Province. It landed safely three days later at Dongfeng landing site.
The rocket is considered a cornerstone in China's space exploration plans as it also carried the country's Mars mission Tianwen. Also, it plays a significant role in China's plans of making their space station.
Moreover, the right side of the capsule carried almost a thousand supplies to test the cargo capacity of the next-generation spacecraft. Meanwhile, its left side was designed to house astronauts, including a folding table and a toilet.
The China Manned Space Agency (CMSA) said that the capsule flew n orbit for about two days and 19 hours for its test flight while also carrying some space science and technology experiments.
Huang told CCTV that sending the next-generation spacecraft on that flight test achieved significant breakthroughs, particularly in thermal protection and precision control for its return and re-entry and engine design and landing.
He added that these achievements had enabled them to take a leap from being behind others in the space industry to running beside them. More so, it has created a sound technological foundation for the country's future crewed missions to the lunar surface.
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