A spaceship several kilometers away: everything that is known about China's new project

How did it all start?

Chinese researchers are exploring the possibility of assembling a spacecraft in orbit

Earth.This project is part of the country's ambition to expand space exploration. According to an initial report from the South China Morning Post, a proposal from the National Natural Science Foundation of China will analyze the mechanics of creating an "extra-large spacecraft spanning several kilometers." In other words, China has just told the world that it is interested in building a spacecraft several kilometers long above the Earth. This is especially true given that the International Space Station project will soon cease to exist.

New project

The report notes that this is an analysis of the idea forthe creation of a giant ship is part of a large strategic aerospace strategy that will ensure "the use of space resources, the study of the mysteries of the universe and long-term stay in orbit in the future." According to the project plan, the work is carried out by an agency under the Ministry of Science and Technology of China.

By the way, this large-scale project is just oneof 10 other proposed research plans published earlier this month by the Department of Mathematical and Physical Sciences. It is reported that he will finance five joint projects with a maximum budget equivalent to $ 2.3 million (15 million yuan).

For the construction of a modular spacecraftseveral launches will be required, and assembly will also be required in outer space itself. The point is that it will weigh too much and be too massive to be launched in one flight. Consequently, the specialists involved in the project will face a problem. They will have to minimize the weight of the spacecraft in order to reduce the total number of launches required to get its parts into space. And also optimize construction costs to match the budget. Engineers must also ensure that the structures are controllable to limit displacement, deformation and vibration during the assembly process.

June 17, the ship "Shenzhou-12" with threeastronauts on board made a successful docking with the Chinese orbital station under construction. The Chinese station has three docking stations and a spacewalk. At the current stage, the station consists of three elements: the Tianhe base module, the Tianzhou-2 cargo ship and the Shenzhou-12 cargo ship. The station is expected to be operational in 2022 and, as promised by the Chinese authorities, will be available for international projects.

China's space ambitions are growing

In recent years, China has been stepping up its space program and striving to show the world what it is capable of.

  • Your rover

China has invested heavily in its spaceprogram in May became the second country to host a working rover on Mars, two years after landing its first spacecraft on the far side of the Moon. This week, the Chinese rover Zhuzhong traveled more than a kilometer across the surface of Mars as part of its mission to this planet. This was reported on Monday by the Xinhua news agency with reference to the Center for Lunar Research and Space Program under the China National Space Administration (CNSA).

Earlier, CNSA announced the successful completion of the main mission of the rover on August 15, during the operation of the device on the surface of the planet, specialists received more than 10 GB of data.

"Chzhuzhong" is equipped with a number of instruments for Mars exploration - georadar, magnetometer, meteorological instruments, panoramic and multispectral cameras.

As part of the research, the rover will photograph the planet's surface and collect data on geology, topography, meteorological phenomena, patches of water ice and signs of life on the Red Planet.
In the spring, the rover was delivered to the surface of Mars withwith the help of the Tianwen-1 spacecraft, which landed on the surface of the planet on May 15, and already on May 22, the Chzhuzhong successfully slid down the ladder from the landing platform.

The Zhurong rover, part of China's first Mars exploration spacecraft, Tianwen 1, was launched from the Wenchang Cosmodrome on Hainan Island on July 23, 2020.

  • Own space station

Space station "Tiangong" should be the third in the world multi-module manned orbital station (after stationsMir and ISS), but smaller in size. The assembled space station of three modules will have a mass of more than 60 tons, and over time it can be expanded to 100 tons or more.

This is the third Chinese orbital visitedfacility launched under the Tiangong program. The first two were the Tiangong-1 and Tiangong-2 space laboratories, designed to test the docking processes and experiments related to the long-term stay of the crews in orbit.

China has begun assembling its space stationTiangong ("Tiangong") in April this year, and several more modules are planned to be launched into low-earth orbit using a heavy rocket Long March 5 ("Changzheng-5").

  • Own super-heavy rocket

China Heavy Space RocketChangzheng-5 (CZ-5) was developed at the Missile Technology Research Institute (CALT). The CZ-5 has several design options with different numbers and types of modules. It uses modules of already tested missiles of the same generation CZ-6, CZ-7, CZ-8.

The rocket is capable of launching into low orbit about 25tons of cargo. This is much less than what the current development of the private US firm SpaceX, the giant Falcon Heavy, is capable of. At the time of writing, the 22-ton main component of the station will be the main living quarters for space astronauts aboard the station, due to be completed sometime next year when it reaches roughly 100 tons.

What's the bottom line?

Experts are confident in the future, China will undoubtedlywill play an increasingly important role in space missions. It is worth remembering the Changzheng-9 project. It is a China-designed super-heavy launch vehicle developed by the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology. According to information presented at the International Aerospace Congress in 2013, it is planned to create a super-heavy launch vehicle, surpassing the American Saturn 5 and SLS.

In March of this year, China conducted a successful test launch of a 500-ton super-heavy rocket engine. The engineers reported that "the semi-system is in full working order."

Also, China has plans to send a freightspacecraft To the Tiangong Space Station next month, followed by Shenzhou 13 in October, which will carry three astronauts into orbit and return with its current crew.

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