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China Plans to Build Mile-Long Ships in Space

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HONG KONG — China plans to build massive space structures that could be more than a mile long and spaceships that would dwarf SpaceX’s giant Starship. And it plans to manufacture these giant structures piece by piece — in Earth orbit. Here are the details:

The South China Morning Post reports that a Chinese government research body, the National Natural Science Foundation of China, has published a five-year plan to research the best way to build massive structures in space.

The plan is to build spacecraft that could be as massive as a kilometer long in space, after launching the building materials into orbit.

Other research targets include the building of giant space telescopes in space, and giant power plants that would be added to in modular fashion, creating megastructures hanging in Earth orbit.

The biggest space object ever built by humans is the International Space Station. China’s plan is to build space objects that would be 10 times longer than the 109 meters of the International Space Station.

China’s National Natural Science Foundation published the plan after researchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences warned that space technology is developing rapidly and this means that new methods need to be found to launch, deploy and manufacture spacecraft.

Analysts theorize that in-space construction could also improve spacecraft performance and reduce operating costs.

China has recently been grabbing headlines by announcing big space projects that fire the imagination. But critics say these research projects are mostly aimed at creating propaganda headlines, while the resulting technology itself would be virtually impossible to deliver.

SOURCES: South China Morning Post, Scientific American, The Times of London
https://www.scmp.com/news/china/science/article/3146224/china-eyes-ultra-large-spacecraft-spanning-miles-us23m-crewed
https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/china-wants-to-build-a-mega-spaceship-thats-nearly-a-mile-long/
https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/china-unveils-plan-for-huge-space-station-78f88x9mv

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