China is one of the three space faring nations capable of placing human beings into orbit. Their first generation capsules appear to be largely
derived from Russian designs. They are not direct copies, but the designs are definitely derivative. However, given China's ambitions, the original
capsule will be completely inadequate for their new space station and their lunar ambitions.
To that end, China is working on their second generation space capsule. Their intent is to shuttle to and from the space station. Likewise, they
want to use this capsule itself or potentially use a derivative of it, to act as the command module for their lunar landings planned for the end of
the decade. A new set of pictures of the capsule have emerged.
There are also pictures of the service module. The size of it make it clear the capsule meant to be used more than just in LEO.
The Chinese ambitions had been stymied by the problems with the Long March 5 rocket. The need the rocket for placing larger payloads like the new
space station modules into orbit. That has returned to flight though.
While the first rover did lose its ability to move in the second month of operation it did continue to collect useful data. The second rover was still
working as of last month and became the longest lived surface roving vehicle on the moon.
Hardly a failure.
"Just a soft landing"? Kind of a requirement for a successful surface mission wherever you're landing.
I get your point, they are making some strides but the US is still way past them in this field. When they land someone on the moon and get some rovers
to Mars or Titus then yes, they are in the big league. It's difficult to do that in a communist country. They are better at stealing tech than
creating it. It's sad because at one point they were leading the planet in innovation. They are not dummies. A lot of smart people but hard to extract
it in that system.
It depends on how well run the system is. The Soviet race to the moon was stymied not by the underlying philosophy but mismanagement of it: political
infighting and bureaucracy effectively crippled the scientists and engineers. That kind of thing can be a product of any system - the US's own
ambitions have been equally hobbled by posturing and political control of budgets. Private enterprise is maling a good fist of space exploration, but
they are only a stock market crash and a bad shareholder's meeting from having that plug pulled.
You coul argue that China has merely appropriated existing technology, you could also take the view that they are taking an established methodology
that has been proven to work and making their own version of it.
The next boots on the moon are highly likely to be Chinese, or Indian.
The second Yutu rover is, by the way, wide awake and making home movies for the folks back home:
That's because it's a reentry capsule. Surviving the hellacious environment of reentry limits the shapes that can be done.
True. However, a soft-landing capsule re-enters blunt-end forward, to slow it down enough to open parachutes. Warhead re-entry vehicles do not have
a requirement to slow down, so they come in narrow-end forward. This changes the design requirements. That's why I was surprised that a capsule
would so strongly resemble an RV.
Size comparison of the new (left) and old (right) capsules.
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