China's new spacecraft lands back on earth

China's new spacecraft lands back on earth”

Tuesday's launch was also the maiden flight of the Long March 5B rocket, considered the most powerful rocket made in China to date.

China says its new prototype spacecraft has "successfully landed", marking an important step in the country's ambitions to operate a permanent space station and eventually send astronauts to the moon.

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The next-generation manned spacecraft needs three parachutes to help it land, whereas its smaller predecessor Shenzhou only needed one. The spaceship is "now working normally in orbit", having unfolded and positioned its solar panels and established a relay communication link, the official China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation said Thursday, May 7, 2020. "After confirmation by the site, the cabin structure was intact", read the statement.

It can carry up to six astronauts, or three astronauts and 500 kilograms of cargo and can be adapted to multiple tasks.

More news: COVID-19: Ontario eases restrictions, allowing sports training facilities to open

The program has developed rapidly, especially since taking up its first occupied mission in 2003, and has sought to collaborate with space organizations in Europe and beyond.

A cargo capsule that was part of a key test in China's space programme experienced an "anomaly" Wednesday during its return trip, the space authority said. The rocket was 53-metre tall with a 22-ton payload.

Meanwhile, an experimental cargo return craft created to transport equipment that was launched as a secondary payload did not fare so well, as it malfunctioned during its return to Earth on Wednesday. Star sensors, computers and other high-value equipment have been moved from the service capsule to the return capsule so that they can be recycled after returning to Earth.

Beijing has invested heavily in its space programme in recent years as it plays catch-up to the United States, which is the only country to have sent a man to the Moon. The T-shaped space station is expected to be completed "around 2022", when it will support global research experiments.

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