China to design a reusable winged spacecraft

Image courtesy of CALT.

Yesterday, the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology (CALT) announced that it will be working with Shenyang Aircraft Design Institute, which designs military aircraft, to develop a new reusable spacecraft for manned missions. The institute has stated that the spacecraft’s design will be based on winged aircraft.

CALT has stated that reusable launch vehicles are ideal for manned spaceflights, as they are able to make repeated trips from ground to orbit, and envisions using them to transport astronauts to and from China’s planned space station. However, compared to conventional aircraft, the spacecraft design load needs to take into consideration multiple environments, making its development more complex and demanding.

The two organizations signed a strategic cooperation agreement to work together on a number of areas, including its design load, the development of digital pressure management systems, and other areas. Because of the winged aircraft design, which is drastically different from rocket design, CALT believes the partnership with Shenyang will aid in the development of the vehicle.

A key factor in solving this issue, said CALT, is the necessity for accurate data. Therefore, CALT and Shenyang are developing a software to calculate flight parameters, in addition to other technical exchanges.

Said Zhou Zhengyang, a member of the CALT R&D team, “Using this platform, flight parameters can be manipulated to calculate the design load needed, making the process faster and more accurate”.

“After entering some data on this platform, it can combine the flight parameters to calculate the data needed for the load design, and the R & D personnel will be able to measure the load faster and more accurately,” says Zhou.

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