China's first reusable manned spacecraft will be launched into space in 2027. It will become the main competitor of the American SpaceX Dragon and Boeing CST-100 Starliner reusable spacecraft. In addition, China and Russia will also use it in their lunar exploration programs.
The full-scale prototype of the spacecraft flew into space in 2020. It resembles a "blunt bullet" in shape, but differs from the modern disposable Chinese Shenzhou spacecraft in its protective anti-thermal coating materials and design. The thermal coating of the new spacecraft can withstand up to 1650°C, but it is 30% lighter than the previous one.
Most of the components of the spacecraft will be reused up to 10 times, which will reduce the cost of the launch. Like the SpaceX Dragon and Boeing CST-100 Starliner, the Chinese version can accommodate seven astronauts. It will be able to take them to the Moon, while the American Orion spacecraft, which is designed to perform the same task, can carry no more than six astronauts.
It is interesting that the design of the Chinese spacecraft is simpler compared to the previous models. It consists of two segments instead of three, and at the same time it is twice as long as SpaceX Dragon, and its mass is twice that of Orion: 21.6 tons compared to 9.5 tons. The length of the Chinese guided capsule is 8.8 meters.
The new spacecraft will play a key role in China's future space programs, especially in establishing a base on the moon. However, it will not land on the surface of the Moon, as a separate landing module is being created for this purpose, the name of which will also be chosen in a national competition.
The reusable Chinese manned spacecraft does not yet have a name, but a competition for its name is planned to be held soon.