While China’s space exploration goes back decades to the late 1960’s when the first tangible efforts begun with the development of Shuguang-1. It was designed to carry a crew of two, not too dissimilar to the US Gemini capsule of the early to mid-1960’s. Although it launched its first satellite into orbit in 1970, sadly, China was not destined to launch humans into orbit until over three decades later.
Shuguang-1 Spacecraft with crew capsule
In October 2003, Project 921 (The Shenzhou program) reached its zenith with a first Chinese crewed mission. Subsequent launches in the program saw China’s fist spacewalk mission and crewed test missions for China’s future space station as part of the multi-phase Tiangong program. With the goal of establishing a permanent human presence in space just like that of the International Space Station.
Below, is what the future Chinese space station is expected to look like.
China is indeed making huge strides forward, a lunar rover in 2014 and a second in the same program in 2019 and with the successful launch of its Long March 5 rocket on 27/12/19 capable of delivering a 25 ton payload, China’s future plans for a a lunar base and a Mars mission look well on their way. Watch the Long March 5 launch video here.
China has a reported $8bn budget set aside for its space program, I say double it, cut the military spending by 5% and accelerate human exploration of space. In fact an even better idea might be to cut the global defence spending by 5% and have an estimated $95bn for all space agencies to jointly collaborate on a human mission to Mars to be achieved by 2030. Now there’s a thought.