China may launch a manned spacecraft of a new generation as early as 2027

A new generation Chinese spacecraft with a crew of up to seven taikonauts may make its first flight between 2027 and 2028, Reuters reports with reference to the words of the first Chinese astronaut Yang Liwei.

Recent tests of the next-generation spacecraft capsule have been “very successful,” with their first flights expected between 2027 and 2028, said Yang, who is currently deputy chief designer of China’s manned spacecraft project.

“In the future, a new generation of spacecraft will be used on crewed lunar missions, to build our space station, and for deep-space exploration,” state-run Guangzhou Daily quoted Yang Liwei as saying.

As a reminder, the People’s Republic of China launched its first artificial Earth satellite on April 24, 1970. It took the country more than 33 years to send a man into space. Yang Liwei launched on board Shenzhou 5 only on October 15, 2003.

Ships of the Shenzhou series are based on the design of the Soviet Soyuz spacecraft, the development of which began in 1962 and which have long been obsolete. Nevertheless, Shenzhou ships have already made 11 manned flights. The last of the ships, the Shenzhou 16, is currently in space docked with the Tiangong space station. Shenzhou 17 is scheduled for launch in October 2023.

The tests of the new generation Chinese spacecraft, which does not yet have its own name, have been going on since 2016. The last test launch took place on May 5, 2020.

For comparison. The development of the Russian “Manned transport ship of the new generation” (aka “Federation”, aka “Oryol”) has been underway since 2009. It has not yet reached test flights.