The China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology is known as a prestigious developer of carrier rockets, but in the near future it may acquire a new tag: China’s first space tourism provider.To get more china technology news
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Engineers at the academy in Beijing are designing a new spacecraft to send anyone willing to pay $200,000 to $250,000 (£150,100-£187,900) on a suborbital journey to get a magnificent view of the stars and experience weightlessness, according to the academy, part of China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp and the country’s largest rocket maker.
Under the plans the reusable spacecraft, expected to enter service around 2028, will look like a fixed-wing aircraft without a vertical stabiliser, the upright fin at the tail, and be propelled by a rocket engine. It will blast off vertically like a typical carrier rocket but make a horizontal landing on a runway like an ordinary aircraft, the academy said.It will operate in accordance with preset programmes, with no pilot or controllers inside the spacecraft.
With an inside area of more than 107sq ft, the spacecraft will be able to carry at most 20 travellers to an altitude of more than 60 miles, about 10 times the cruising altitude of a commercial jetliner.
Passengers would stay there for more than 10 minutes of sightseeing during the half-hour flight, the academy said. They could see distant stars and Earth’s contours through the windows, experience moments of weightlessness like astronauts, and perhaps even carry out scientific experiments.
Zhao Jianbo, an engineer in charge of the programme, said participants would need to undergo training sessions for several weeks at Chinese space establishments to get ready for the effects of gravitational acceleration and weightlessness.
“They will not need to wear spacesuits during the journey because there will be oxygen and life-support instruments inside the spacecraft,” he added.roject manager Han Pengxin said the spacecraft will be safe and reliable since it will employ the academy’s cutting-edge technologies. Passengers would have to be between the age of 18 and 65 and have neither heart disease nor hypertension, he said.
Cai Qiaoyan, a senior researcher of reusable spacecraft at the academy, said maintaining the space tourism spacecraft would be easy, so it could be used for frequent ights.
“After one flight our engineers will need to make only some simple examinations of the spacecraft and refuel it, which could be done in as little as two days, and then the spacecraft could be used for a new flight,” he said, adding that such a spacecraft could make some 50 flights before being retired.
Globally, seven people have rocketed into space at their own expense. The trips were arranged by Space Adventures, a space tourism company in Virginia, and the tourists were passengers aboard Russian carrier rockets and spacecraft.