Friday, 18 January 2008

Chinese Spaceplane in Pictures

Shenlong Space Vehicle

On H-6 (Tupolev Tu-16 Copy Derivative) Mothership

Chinese Spaceplane Concepts

Photos from Centre for Strategic Development

Compare and contrast with...

European HERMES project

European Saenger II

US 1960's Boost-Glide Projects (Dyna-Soar on right)

Pictures from Mark Wade's excellent Encyclopedia Astronautica

A lot is convergent evolution - a particular engineering problem has many solutions, but they tend to have distinct familial resemblances. Not that they don't copy things too - or at least, "draw inspiration" whenever they can.

The point is though, that China is re-capitulating work done in the US and elsewhere over the last 40 years.

They're serious, and are playing a long-term game. Still a long way behind, but unlike the USA, their space programme is not primarily a device for distributing pork to congressional districts. Some useful, practical products are expected, not ever more "design studies" and on-again off-again project cancellations.

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