China set to turbo-charge space race with plans for ‘mile long’ super ship

China has begun looking into constructing an "ultra-large spacecraft", or super ship, that could span a mile long in space.

The National Natural Science Foundation of China has invited scientists to join a five-year project to look at the feasibility of such a vast carrier, reports South China Morning Post.

The foundation, which is funded by the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology, wrote: "[Such a spacecraft] is a major strategic aerospace equipment for the future use of space resources, exploration of the mysteries of the universe and staying in long-term orbit."

According to the published outline by the foundation, the ship would need to be constructed using gigantic modules that would then be launched into space multiple times and then slotted together outside of Earth.

Those involved in the project will be asked to find ways to minimise the weight of the components to reduce costs and the number of launches needed.

Other areas of study will be "ensure controllability of the structures to limit attitude drift, deformation and vibration during the assembly process", the outline said.

China is currently constructing its Tiangong space station with the first module travelling to low Earth orbit in May 2021.

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Currently, three Chinese astronauts are on board the space station with hopes that it will be continuously manned for a decade.

When completed Tiangong space station will weigh about 100 tonnes, which is a quarter of the size of the International Space Station.

So far more than 40 individual modules are connected to form the International Space Station, spanning over 100 metres long and 75 metres wide.

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China is also working on heavy lift rockets that will be able to launch vast loads into space. The current plan is that a rocket will go live in 2030 capable of lifting up to 140 tonnes to low-Earth orbit.

Both China and the United States currently have rovers on Mars exploring the planet.

The US Perseverance landed on February 18, 2021 and the Chinese Zhurong arrived on the Red Planet on May, 14 this year.

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