Credit: CCTV

The return capsule of China’s experimental manned spacecraft with no crew safely landed at the Dongfeng landing site in the desert of north China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region at 13:49 Beijing Time (05:49 GMT), according to the China Manned Space Engineering Office (CMSEO).

Credit: CCTV/China National Space Administration (CNSA)

China Central Television (CCTV) reported that the search team quickly found the reusable capsule and confirmed that its structure was intact.

Credit: CCTV/China National Space Administration (CNSA)

The new manned spaceship can be used in the operation of China’s space station and future human exploration of the Moon, Chinese space officials said.

The new spaceship is 30 feet (nine meters) high, with a maximum diameter of 15 feet (4.5 meters). It can hold six to seven astronauts.

New-generation craft

Credit: Weibo

The re-entry capsule, together with a service module that forms the new-generation spacecraft, weighing more than 20 tons, were sent into space by China’s new large carrier rocket Long March-5B, which blasted off from the Wenchang Space Launch Center on the coast of southern China’s island province of Hainan at 18:00 Beijing Time on Tuesday.

Following the instructions from the Beijing Aerospace Control Center, the experimental spaceship applied the brake and entered the return orbit at 12:21, and its return capsule separated with its service capsule at 13:33.

Credit: CCTV/China National Space Administration

The experimental spaceship flew in orbit for two days and 19 hours, during which it carried out a series of space science and technology experiments, said the China Manned Space Agency (CMSA).

 

Human lunar exploration

“The success of the test indicates that China has made a major progress in manned space transportation technology,” said Wang Zhonggui, deputy chief designer of China’s manned space program in a CCTV interview.

The return capsule uses 12 monopropellant-powered engines which are applied for the first time in China to make the capsule safer and reusable.

“The test has made technological preparations for the following manned lunar exploration and other space missions and has opened a new chapter in the annals of China’s space program,” Wang added.

According to the China Global Television Network (CGTV), the new spaceship is reusable. “It only needs changes to its thermal-protective coating and its protective cap of docking devices before re-launching again. A modular design can ensure the re-entry capsule is compatible with bigger service modules for a mission even to the Moon.”

Credit: CCTV/China National Space Administration

Key technologies

The mission tested the key technologies of the new spaceship such as the control of its re-entry into the atmosphere, heat shielding and recovery technology.

“The ground control center calculated accurately the orbit of the spaceship and the control parameters of its re-entry into the atmosphere. The reentry control precision is very high, well within the anticipated range,” said Sun Jun, head of the survey and control team of the Long March-5B maiden flight mission.

Star sensors, computers and other high-value equipment were moved from the service capsule to the return capsule so that they can be recycled after returning to Earth.

CCTV landing video at:

https://youtu.be/zpm05o0g288?list=PLpGTA7wMEDFjz0Zx93ifOsi92FwylSAS3

Also go to this CCTV/China National Space Administration (CNSA) video at:

https://youtu.be/psEWjY2GnlI?list=PLpGTA7wMEDFjz0Zx93ifOsi92FwylSAS3

 

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