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China Spaceflight Breakthrough: Hypersonic Spaceplane To Take-Off, Land Like Usual Aircarft; Ordinary People In Mars By 2030 Possible?

First Posted: Aug 11, 2016 06:37 AM EDT
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China announced that they are working on hypersonic spaceplane, which they refer to as the next spaceflight breakthrough. The hypersonic spaceplane will be Space Shuttle's efficient successor that is bound to carry combined cycle engines with the ability to take-off from airport straight to orbit.

The hypersonic spaceplane from China will use either turbojet or turbofan engines to enable its cycle engines to takeoff straight from its landing strip horizontally. When airborne, its engine will immediately shift into its ramjet propulsion, adjusting speed and scramjet engine via supersonic airflow, Space Flight Insider reported.

China's hypersonic spaceplane will engage into its hypersonic flight when it reaches near space status during the scramjet stage. The near space distance is 100 km above sea level. The rocket motors will then be used to get out of the near space level and enter orbit.

Aside from the long-term program of developing hybrid spaceplane, China is also aiming to offer space trips more affordably. According to reports, China foresees to send ordinary people to space in 2030 at lower expenses than the current costs. The hypersonic spaceplane will be reusable, landing and taking-off like usual aircrafts. These attributes will reportedly reduce the space travel cost substantially, Popular Science reported.

"We have made a long-term plan of taking about three to five years to master the key technologies, and significantly improve the capability of the spacecraft during the application. We aim to implement the technology in suborbital flight and orbital insertion by 2030," said China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation Zhang Yong.

Meanwhile, China is scheduled to go back to crewed flight within the year alongside Shenzhou-11 launch. The mission will reportedly dock in Tiangong-2 space lab following lift-off in Jiuquan. The Tiangong-2, on the other hand, is expected to reach orbit at the same time that the Shenzhou spacecraft crew are aloft. The exact dates of launch for the missions are confidential information as of this writing. 

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