US, WASHINGTON (ORDO NEWS) — A new prototype of the Chinese spacecraft “successfully landed” on Friday, marking an important step in its ambition to launch a permanent space station and send astronauts to the moon.
The spacecraft, which was launched on Tuesday, safely landed at a given location, the Chinese space agency said. It stated that the design of the spacecraft’s cabin was intact.
The test ship was launched with a cargo capsule aboard a new type of launch vehicle from the Wenchang cosmodrome on the southern island of Hainan.
The space agency reported that the ship was in orbit for two days and 19 hours and made a number of experiments.
The return confirmed the capabilities of the spacecraft, such as its heat resistance. It is hoped that the spacecraft will one day deliver astronauts to the space station, the construction of which China plans to complete by 2022, and ultimately to the moon.
The new prototype expands the number of crew members that can be sent into space – up to six, with three in an earlier model.
Friday’s safe landing follows an issue earlier in the test when an unidentified “anomaly” occurred during the return of the cargo capsule that was intended to transport the equipment.
The experiment also tested the Long March 5B rocket, which made its first flight. This happened after two previous missile failures – Long March 7A in March and Long March 3B in early April.
Observers noted that a successful mission was an important milestone for China. The country can now move forward with its plans for a space station. The first module can now be launched at the beginning of 2021.
“The successful landing of a new spacecraft from a high orbit also shows that China is serious about sending astronauts beyond low Earth orbit and will ultimately send its astronauts to the moon,” Green added.
Chen Lan, an independent analyst, said that China now has similar manned space capabilities that the US and Russia.
Beijing has invested heavily in its space program in recent years as it plays catch-up with the United States, which is the only country to send humans to the moon.
The assembly of the Chinese Tiangong space station, whose name means “Heavenly Palace”, is expected to begin this year and end in 2022.
China became the first country to land on the far side of the moon in January 2019, deploying a lunar rover, which so far has traveled about 450 meters.
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