China well placed for a new decade of space exploration

© 2019 CNSA

While China’s space exploration goes back decades to the late 1960’s when the first tangible efforts begun with the development of Shuguang-1It was designed to carry a crew of two, not too dissimilar to the US Gemini capsule of the early to mid-1960’s. Although it launched its first satellite into orbit in 1970, sadly, China was not destined to launch humans into orbit until over three decades later. 

Shuguang-1 Spacecraft with crew capsule

Image credit: © Mark Wade

In October 2003, Project 921 (The Shenzhou program) reached its zenith with a first Chinese crewed mission. Subsequent launches in the program saw China’s fist spacewalk mission and crewed test missions for China’s future space station as part of the multi-phase Tiangong program. With the goal of establishing a permanent human presence in space just like that of the International Space Station. 

Below, is what the future Chinese space station is expected to look like. 

A satellite in space

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Image credit: © CMSA

China is indeed making huge strides forward, a lunar rover in 2014 and a second in the same program in 2019 and with the successful launch of its Long March 5 rocket on 27/12/19 capable of delivering a 25 ton payload, China’s future plans for a a lunar base and a Mars mission look well on their way. Watch the Long March 5 launch video here.

China has a reported $8bn budget set aside for its space program, I say double it, cut the military spending by 5% and accelerate human exploration of space. In fact an even better idea might be to cut the global defence spending by 5% and have an estimated $95bn for all space agencies to jointly collaborate on a human mission to Mars to be achieved by 2030. Now there’s a thought. 

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