China’s Plan to Launch Tourists into Space | China Uncensored
On this episode of China Uncensored, pack your bags, we’re going to space! Hi, welcome to China Uncensored, I’m your Interplanetary Explorer Extraordinaire, Chris Chappell. Space: the final frontier. And guess which country is going to conquer it? After all, the legendary Chang’e flew to the moon several thousand years ago, which definitely makes the moon a part of China’s sacred territory. Wait, is that a nine-dash line? Take that, Neil Armstrong! But as Neil knows, getting to space ain’t easy! In fact, it’s harder than fighting a slew of monsters, climbing the sacred Mount Kunlun, finding the Queen Mother of the West, and convincing her to give you the elixir of immortality that will take you to the heavens! First of all, if you fly an airplane high enough, there’s no more air. And once you’ve lost the air under the wings that give the plane lift and control, well, flight becomes much, much harder. That’s why, despite the great technological advances we’ve made as a species, the best idea humanity has come up with for getting into space involves strapping yourself to a massive explosion. And not surprisingly, that can go wrong. For example, SpaceX, a privately owned aerospace manufacturer and space transport services company, can make a nice video showing how simple interplanetary travel is. But when you actually put a rocket on a launch pad, things can go bad quickly. That was an unmanned rocket, FYI. Space tourism is certainly ambitious. But when it comes to making the impossible only very improbable no one beats China. From the people who said they wanted to build an underwater train to America and a trillion dollar space laser, but who still can’t design a good jet engine without stealing from other countries— comes one of the most ambitious plans in the space tourism industry: A 20-person spaceplane. Yeah, that is the most ambitious plan out there. A reminder that we’re still 200 years away from building The Enterprise. The state-backed China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology unveiled this at the International Astronautical Congress in Guadalajara, Mexico. And while 20 passengers may not sound like a lot, it is for a spaceplane. For context, Blue Origin’s New Shepard spacecraft, which is a competitor, is being designed for just six passengers. The Chinese spaceplane design is also big. The largest design weighs in at nearly 100 tons with a 40-foot wingspan. The American space shuttle by comparison was just 82 tons. The design team claims test flights will begin in two years, and payload launches in 2020— the same year Mission to Mars takes place. So someone’s prediction was off by a few years. Spaceflight expert Roger Launius at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC is a bit skeptical of China’s plans. He told New Scientist, “It’s not explained how that will be accomplished. And the fact that they think they can test fly in the next 2 years is remarkable.” One of the things that make China’s space plane concept unique is that it will all be one piece. Like footie pajamas. It won’t have a separate booster unit like America’s old-fashioned space shuttle, nor will with be carried into the air on a separate craft, like Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo. Basically, it will take off like the rockets of yore, but land like a space shuttle, following these comforting circular bright red lines. But anyway, I’m all for progress in space exploration— whether the innovation comes from China or other countries. But I’m not sure about this whole space plane idea. You see, the space plane designers say each ticket will cost $200,000 dollars or more. And that could make the airline industry want to get involved. Suddenly, you’re paying ten grand for each piece of checked luggage, you’ll have to take your space suit off to get through the full-body scanner, and an upgrade to business class will cost you 100,000 frequent flyer light-years. That’s no way to travel. But all that is years ahead of us. Meanwhile, China’s space program has lost control of the Tiangong 1 space station which is due to crash somewhere on on Earth next year. Just something to look forward to. So what do you think of China’s ambitions space plane design? Leave your comments below. Please share this video with your friends, and check us out of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Once again, I’m Chris Chappell. See you next time.