Prototype of the Tianhe core module. China’s space station is expected to be operational around 2022. CCTV/Screengrab

China will ramp up their human spaceflight program, tied to the establishment of the country’s space station.

Zhang Bonan, chief designer of the space program of China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, has stated that China intends to realize bulk production of crew-carrying spacecraft in the future instead of today’s customization.

As reported by China’s Science and Technology Daily report over the weekend, Zhang said to meet the space station’s demands around 2022, the country has to prepare enough spacecraft in advance.

Credit: CMSA

Dramatic increase

The number of personnel and the volume of goods that transport between the ground and the space station will increase dramatically, Zhang said.

They will be launched based on the needs of the replacement of astronauts and the freight, “just like air flights,” Zhang said.

“Today’s China aerospace manufacturing industry has gained the ability to do small volume production through improved digitization and automation technology,” Zhang said.

Docking of China’s Shenzhou 10 spacecraft with the Tiangong-1 space station June 13, 2013.
Credit: CCTV


Spacecraft in quantity

Following the Shenzhou-10 spacecraft mission in June 2013, Zhang said, the country now has the ability to produce crew-carrying spacecraft in quantity.

In 1992, China launched its manned space flight program. The success of Shenzhou-5 in 2003 made China the third country to acquire human space travel technology on its own.

China’s most recent, and the sixth piloted space mission, Shenzhou-11, lifted off in mid-October 2016. The two-person crew made the first piloted docking with the Tiangong-2 space laboratory.

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