China will set about developing reusable space transportation systems, said Wu Yansheng, a deputy general manager of the China Aerospace Science & Industry Corporation (CASIC) at the 2017 Global Space Exploration Conference in Beijing.
The country’s effort will focus on two fronts. One is reusable spacecraft that will shuttle between Earth’s surface and space, and will take off and land horizontally. The country is already developing such spacecraft and has completed ground tests of several key technologies such as the engine, said Liu Shiquan, another deputy general manager at CASIC. China’s famous Shenzhou spacecraft take off and land vertically, and are single-use craft.
The other focus is on reusable carrier rockets. At the conference, China announced for the first time its concepts for reusable carrier rockets, including one that takes off and lands vertically and another that deploys a parachute for landing. Aspects of the two plans have already been tested and breakthroughs in some key technologies already made.