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China says its building new space capsule for low Earth orbit missions & Moon landings

China says its building new space capsule for low Earth orbit missions & Moon landings
China is developing a new spacecraft for missions in low Earth orbit and Moon landings, according to Chinese state media. Beijing is pursuing an independent space program, with the conquest Moon in the pipeline.

The new unnamed spaceship would be recoverable and have room for a number of astronauts, spaceship engineer Zhang Bainian said, as cited by the Science and Technology Daily newspaper.

The report released this week did not provide further details, but Zhang compared the Chinese spacecraft to the Orion currently being developed by NASA and the ESA.

The Shenzhou, China’s current manned spaceship based on the Russian Soyuz design, is capable of carrying up to three astronauts. It completed its first manned mission in 2003, after which Beijing managed to place a habitable space station into orbit.

A bigger station, which would be manned full-time like the ISS, is expected to be operational within five years, and manned Moon missions may follow sometime later.

China plans to launch and test its first Tianzhou-class capsule in April. The automated cargo spacecraft would be used to resupply the future space station.

Tianzhou will dock with the Tiangong-2, a space laboratory that Beijing launched in September of 2016 as part of a space station technology test.