Chinese experts are hard at work on the development of a new spacecraft that will be tested in the following months, and it appears that it will include new technology that should allow it to dock with the International Space Station (ISS), as reported by Space.com.
The Shanghai Academy for Spaceflight Technology has released new images which showcase the docking system that will be used by the spacecraft, and which appears to be compatible with the International Docking System Standard (also known under the name of IDSS). This standard is used by the ESA, NASA, and Roscosmos to ensure the fact that spacecraft send towards the ISS can dock safely at the station.
According to information shared by popular news outlets, the new spacecraft is being will the aim to allow China to send astronauts into orbit. The costs are lower in comparison to buying seats aboard flights conducted by other space agencies.
The upcoming Chinese spacecraft can dock to the ISS
The name of the spacecraft remains a mystery for now as work is being done a prototype. It is known that it will have a length of 8.8 meters (or 28.9 feet) and an impressive mass of 21.6 tons. Up to six astronauts or three astronauts and a significant amount of cargo can be carried to the spacecraft that will be launched by China in the following years.
It is worth pointing out that the IDSS is androgynous, as it was developed in 1975 for the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project. Chinese spacecraft have already displayed their docking capabilities in the case of the Shenzhou and Tanzhou spacecraft and the Tiangong-1 and Tiangong-2 space labs.
Despite the technical prowess, it is unlikely that the upcoming spacecraft will actually dock with the ISS. In 2011 the US government introduced the Wolf Amendment, which imposes harsh limitations on any cooperative projects between other space agencies in the Chinese space agency or government. China will also test a new rocket that could be used to carry the modules of the planned space station into orbit.