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Space & Astronomy

China mulls 'ultra-large spacecraft' proposal

By T.K. Randall
August 26, 2021 · Comment icon 8 comments

The proposal seems way too ambitious to be plausible. Image Credit: NASA / Mark Rademaker
China's space agency is considering the construction of a huge spaceship several kilometers in length.
It's certainly no secret that China's space program has been going from strength to strength in recent years. Having previously launched two manned outposts into orbit, it is now working on the Tiangong space station - which will be around the size of the decommissioned Russian Mir space station - to provide a long-term outpost in Earth's orbit for the conducting of scientific experiments.

China's ambitions however don't end there - the country's National Natural Science Foundation is currently working on proposals for the construction of what has been described as an "ultra-large spacecraft" that would measure several miles in length.

The impractically enormous ship would be built over the course of several years by launching individual components into orbit and putting them together in space.
There would also be a particular emphasis on keeping the weight (and costs) down.

"[Such a spacecraft] is a major strategic aerospace equipment for the future use of space resources, exploration of the mysteries of the universe and staying in long-term orbit," the project outline reads.

The ambitious project is one of several proposals currently being considered, however it is unclear whether or not the powers that be will actually decide to pursue it.

Given the sheer scale of such a project and the questionable practical applications, it seems unlikely that China would actually go ahead with such a plan - at least for the time being.

Source: | Comments (8)

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by Jon the frog 1 year ago
Nice that the Chinese are working on this kind of project. Thinking long term is the way to go after all.
Comment icon #2 Posted by L.A.T.1961 1 year ago
Very ambitious and likely a non-starter.  There would have to be a good reason to build something like this and I can't see one in the 21c.  Build time 50/100 yrs? It could be obsolete before it was finished.  Quicker to fit a nuclear bomb engine to an aircraft carrier and launch that. Just mind the fallout. 
Comment icon #3 Posted by ercbreeze 1 year ago
Great--bigger Chinese junk falling into our atmosphere . . .   
Comment icon #4 Posted by Hammerclaw 1 year ago
It would take that long to build the ground and orbital infrastructure to build a ship that big. 
Comment icon #5 Posted by psyche101 1 year ago
I find it inspiring and wonderful that someone is as much as thinking about such as incredible endeavour in a serious way. As unlikely as it is to go ahead, it's a fantastic dream.
Comment icon #6 Posted by L.A.T.1961 1 year ago
When thinking about this in the past I liked the idea of selecting an asteroid and using it as a shell. It might contain some useful raw materials, would provide radiation protection and the propulsion could be a mass driver using mined material that's not needed.  But it is still a huge project and take many decades to build.  There are no real short cuts in space. 
Comment icon #7 Posted by mesuma 1 year ago
Why? What function would such a vehicle fulfill? How would you perform maintenance on it? Only small parts would be habitable as oxygen would be another hurdle. Moving around the vessel would surely also be a problem. I just can't see how this is even possible never mind practical.
Comment icon #8 Posted by ExoPaul 1 year ago
As incredibly time consuming and difficult as it is, China is well known for building entire suspension bridges in a week that usually takes UK or USA a couple of years to build. They also built a train station in less than 24 hours. Time is not something China seems to worry about. It would be the costs and the safety aspects that would delay or cancel it. But a massive spaceship, loaded with thousands of orbital missiles that can fly with minimal astronaut crew to any location around the world and you can start to see why China wants to build it. It is a new arms race similar to Russia and U... [More]

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