China’s new-generation spaceship.
Credit: CCTV-Plus/Inside Outer Space screen grab

Testing is underway at the Wenchang Space Launch Center for launching China’s new-generation crewed spaceship. The prototype of the spacecraft is developed for the country’s space station and subsequent space missions.

Credit: CCTV/Inside Outer Space screen grab

According to China Central Television (CCTV), compared with the crew-carrying Shenzhou spacecraft, the new generation of piloted spacecraft is larger, can carry both astronauts and cargo, and can be reusable.

The un-crewed prototype spacecraft will appraise a range of technologies and lay the technical foundation for sending and carrying back Chinese astronauts to and from China’s space station in the future.

Unpiloted test flight

According to an earlier report on CCTV, the orbit height of the unpiloted test flight will be about 5,000 miles (8,000 kilometers) – an altitude never reached by China’s Shenzhou series manned spacecraft.

“The new spacecraft uses new heat-resistant material and structure, which is only a third in density compared to the Shenzhou spacecraft, but the heat resistance is three to four times greater,” said Huang Zhen, chief assistant designer of the new manned spacecraft.

“We also upgraded our control on the return trip, which means we will further improve the accuracy of the landing point, and at the same time make sure the astronauts can withstand the impact,” Huang told CCTV.

The test ship will be launched by the Long March-5B rocket. There will also be verification on a new landing method using grouped parachutes and airbags, as well as reusability-related technologies.

Credit: CCTV-Plus/Inside Outer Space screen grab

Epidemic prevention

Meanwhile, a leading group for epidemic prevention and control has also been set up to ensure that work standards are not lowered and development plans are not delayed while fully implementing the requirements for epidemic prevention and control and overcoming the difficulties in personnel and work caused by the COVID-19 epidemic.

Credit: CCTV/Inside Outer Space screengrab

Yang Qing, chief designer of the new-generation manned spacecraft of China Academy of Space Technology told CCTV: “We are now developing a new generation of prototype for manned spaceship. To cope with the epidemic outbreak, we have arranged minimum staff members to fulfill the task on the premise of guaranteeing the high work standards. All the work we carried out here will be notified and confirmed by other staff by telecommunication so as to ensure the work quality.”

For a CCTV video showing preparation of the new-generation spacecraft, go to:

A China Global Television Network (CGTN) detailing the core module and China’s space station plans can be viewed here at:

For a CCTV video on China’s new spaceship, go to:

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