China’s New Spacecraft Looks Like an ISS Capsule

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Don’t Hold Your Breath, Though… China’s New Spacecraft Won’t Dock With The ISS Any Time Soon… Because: Politics. 

The Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight Technology (SAST) posted an image recently of China’s new spacecraft. And it looks a lot like it’d fit nicely into one of the ISS’s docking ports. Currently, Chinese engineers are preparing to do a flight test in the coming months. In the photo, the spacecraft seems to feature docking components that will fit with the International Docking System Standard (IDSS) protocol used by ISS partner nations. 

Currently, NASA, the ESA, and Rosmocos (the civilian space agencies of the U.S., E.U., and Russia, respectively) use the IDSS protocol for all of their docking craft. In fact, astronauts aboard the ISS installed a brand new docking adapter on the station last year. 

Chinese Presence In Space

As with so many other areas of modern development, China’s space program has exploded in the past few decades. As a matter of fact, they’re one of only four countries to have successfully landed a craft on the moon. That being the case, it’s only natural that their next move will to expand their space program to include human spaceflight. And that certainly appears to be the function of China’s new spacecraft.

But Politics, Though…

The new spacecraft, which is yet unnamed, appears to be fully capable of docking humans with the ISS. China plans to test the capsule with a flight in mid-April. Even so, don’t hold your breath waiting for a Chinese mission to the ISS anytime soon. 

While China has cooperative agreements with the ESA and Rosmocos, the U.S. effectively barred China from participating in ISS missions when it included “The Wolf Amendment” into legislation in 2011. That amendment restricts the amount of cooperation NASA is allowed to do with China or organizations linked to its government.

For now, it doesn’t appear that the status between the U.S. and China is likely to change anytime soon. Until then, though, the Chinese march on toward progress. 

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Brandon Humphreys

Brandon Humphreys

I'm a wizard. I write stuff and it goes from my head into yours - Magic! Apart from that, I am the Senior Editor for Space Porn, a veteran, a rock guitarist, and a teacher.

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