China successfully launches new spacecraft

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The spacecraft could in the future be used to transport astronauts to the future Chinese space station and to make manned flights to the Moon.

It was a crucial mission to send astronauts to its future large space station. China successfully launched a new spacecraft on Tuesday, the new China state agency said. The craft was propelled from the base of Wenchang on the island of Hainan (south) using a Long-March rocket 5B, of which it was the inaugural flight, reported new China.

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For safety, no one had taken place on board the ship because of its experimental nature. Its main medium-term objectives: to send astronauts to the future space station and to make manned flights to the Moon. China has already launched since 1999 several “Shenzhou” vessels, built on the model of the famous “Soyuz” Soviets, then Russians.

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A faster and more resistant vessel

The new spacecraft launched on Tuesday is said to be safer. It will be faster, more heat resistant, longer (8.8 meters) and heavier (21.6 tonnes). The craft should also be able to carry more astronauts (six instead of three) and be partially reusable. These characteristics open up new horizons for the Chinese manned space program.

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The spacecraft is thus supposed to be able to carry out more distant missions in space (to the Moon for example, or even even further), journeys which require greater speed and better protection against extreme temperatures.

A multi-billion euro space program

The future Chinese space station (CSS), called Tiangong in Mandarin (“Celestial Palace”), will consist of three parts: a main module almost 17 meters long (place of life and work) and two additional modules (for scientific experiments ).

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Its assembly in space should start this year thanks to this new Longue-Marche 5B rocket (the most powerful in the country) and will be completed in 2022. China is investing billions of euros in its space program. It places many satellites in orbit, for its own account or for other countries.

In early 2019, it became the first nation in the world to land a probe on the far side of the Moon. In 2020, it should launch a probe to Mars. She also hopes to send a manned mission to the moon within ten years.

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