China launches new rocket, crew capsule on the way to 2022 space station

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Jun 28, 2016, 12:51 PM EDT

The United States isn’t the only government trying to conquer the stars, and the Chinese government is gearing up to launch its own space station within the next six years. The first step? A new rocket and crew capsule.

Space reports the Chinese government has successfully launched and tested its next-generation crew capsule this past weekend, marking the first launch at the country’s new launch center. The space agency successfully tested out its Long March 7 rocket, developed in part to help ferry up the components for the government’s ambitious new, crewed space station project. China hopes to have the facility up and running by 2022. 

In addition to testing out the rocket itself, the mission also put a scaled-down crew capsule through its paces, along with an upper stage designed to deploy satellites. In addition to those tools, the project also demonstrated a satellite refueling system and space-junk cleanup. The test went well, and the capsule was successfully recovered following a parachute landing.

With NASA’s path less than secure at the moment, it’s encouraging to see other countries working to also push the boundaries. Toss in the ESA, SpaceX, Blue Origin (plus NASA, of course) and the rest, and there’s more than enough space exploring to get excited about.

Here’s hoping China will let some U.S. astronauts stage a sleepover.


(Via Space)