As the new era of space exploration is making a comeback, China is revealing plans to establish a market for space tourism on the country’s Tiangong space station.
1. Space tourism
China doesn’t want to stay behind in the new race of space ventures, seeing the achievements and ambitions of companies like SpaceX, Blue Origin or Virgin Galactic. Beijing is trying to arouse interest in space tourism by turning its almost-completed space station tailored to accommodate space tourists.
The announcement was made by Yang Liwei, who made history in 2003 by becoming China’s first astronaut in space. Liwei recently told Chinese media that people without formal astronaut training could soon visit the Tiangong space station.
It is not a matter of technology but of demand. And it can be realised within a decade as long as there is such demand.Yang Liwei said when asked if the general public would be able to tour Tiangong
Liwei was speaking in the capacity of member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), which is part of China’s ongoing annual political sessions in Beijing. Later on, Zhou Jianping, known as the chief designer of China’s human spaceflight program, said the country’s Shenzhou crew spacecraft could be used for space tourism.
2. Infrastructure development
To be able to accomplish this goal, China first must complete the three-module, T-shaped space station and make it fully operational. For that, it plans to launch six missions this year to complete Tiangong. These will be launches of two new modules, a pair of cargo supply missions and two crewed missions, Shenzhou 14 and Shenzhou 15. The two three-person missions are also expected to carry out the first crew handover, which will temporarily see six astronauts aboard the space station.
China is also working on a reusable rocket for human spaceflight, which would be capable of launching a new, larger and partially reusable crew spacecraft to the space station, according to Space.com.
3. Commercial operations
China is also embracing the birth and growth of commercial operations. As soon as 2025, CAS space, a commercial spinoff of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), is aiming to offer rides to space for tourists, much like Jeff Bezos is doing at Blue Origin. A private space plane company — Space Transportation — is developing a “rocket with wings” for space tourism and point-to-travel, aiming a first suborbital flight in 2025 and orbital flights around 2030.