China develops next-generation crew vehicle

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Next-Generation Crew Vehicle Looks Strikingly Similar to CST-100 and Orion

As China continues to work on the construction of a manned space station in the LEO for 2020, they are also working on a next-generation crew vehicle, which can transport crew or cargo to the Moon, Lagrange Points, Near Earth Asteroids and Mars.

The two versions of the Chinese next-generation crew vehicle. Source: SinoDefence

The two versions of the Chinese next-generation crew vehicle. Source: SinoDefence

The unnamed vehicle, which could launch as soon as 2020, would abandon the Soyuz-like design of the Shenzhou spacecraft which has been the mainstay of the Chinese space program since its inception.

Instead, the new design calls for a conical crew module above a cylindrical service module, similar to the Orion and CST-100 Starliner spacecraft, as well as the earlier Apollo spacecraft.

The multipurpose vehicle would be launched  aboard either the CZ-7 or CZ-5 rocket launcher, both expected to fly in 2016.

The CZ-7 has a payload capacity of 14 tonnes to LEO, while the CZ-5 has a payload capacity of 25 tonnes. Both launchers are currently in development, and will require further modifications to become man-rated.​

The Chinese vehicle would be able to hold up to six people, and splash down in the ocean.

Source: SinoDefence

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