SpaceX Copycat? New Chinese Rocket Looks Like a Baby of New Shepard, Starship

SpaceX Copycat? New Chinese Rocket Looks Like a Baby of New Shepard, Starship
Chinese company CAS Space is building a rocket similar to SpaceX's Starship and Blue Origin's New Shepard set to accommodate space tourists in 2024. Photo : Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Space tourism may not be a vision exclusive to pioneers such as SpaceX CEO Elon Musk or Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos.

In fact, a Chinese company is following Musk and Bezos' lead in pushing a space tourism rocket to fruition. CAS Space, a commercial arm of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, showed mock-ups of those rockets that is apparently inspired by the creations of Musk's SpaceX and Bezos' Blue Origin.

Chinese Rocket Resembles New Shepard, Starship

The rocket's upper portion looks like Blue Origin's New Shepard, the mock-ups reveal, while its body resembles SpaceX's Starship, with those familiar side fins that would guide the spacecraft's descent.

According to a Daily Mail report, CAS Space is looking at sending paying space tourists to suborbital space in 2024.

In a press release, CAS Space said that the rocket will accommodate seven passengers, who will spend 10 minutes floating in zero gravity near the Kármán line, which is the boundary between the Earth's atmosphere and outer space that is around 62 miles above the Earth's surface.

Read Also: SpaceX Inspiration4 Launch Today: How to Track Historic Space Flight Online

Once a childhood dream and an oft-repeated theme in most science fiction novels and movies, space tourism has become a reality, thanks to three business moguls pushing its boundaries.

Bezos and Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson have already ventured into suborbital space.

While Musk has not reached space himself, his company SpaceX recently sent four civilians into orbit last month for a three-day space trip.

China is now the next country to venture into space tourism, with a crew of civilians set for a mission in just two years.

The Daily Mail report said the reusable rocket will undergo a series of tests ahead of its planned launch. These include a suborbital demonstration next year and an unmanned mission in 2023. Then, they target the actual suborbital manned space tourism flight in 2024.

CAS Space Plans for Space Tourism Rocket Deemed Ambitious

CAS Space's plans would seem more ambitious given its relatively small time frame, compared to the number of years the American aerospace companies spent in development of its spacecraft before actually launching tourists into space.

Blue Origin made its first demonstration in 2015 and it took the company six years before sending a human crew into orbit.

In the CAS Space press release, the company said the civilian crew will undergo short-term training before the launch, but it didn't mention any specific details about the type of training they would receive.

SpaceX's Inspiration mission launched four civilians to space onboard a Falcon 9 rocket. Led by billionaire Jared Isaacman, the crew lifted off on September 15 from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. Composed of Jared Isaacman, Sian Proctor, Hayley Arceneaux and Chris Sembroski, the civilian crew were strapped into the pressurized Crew Dragon cabin called Resilience. They were all wearing black-and-white suits as they embarked on their historic space journey. 

Before their mission, the team underwent centrifuge training to get ready for a mix of dynamic spaceflight situations, which includes launch, reentry, ocean splashdown and a possible in-flight abort scenario.

Branson, Bezos' Historic Space Tourism Missions

Branson was among the first non-astronauts to reach space with five other people orbiting 53 miles above the Earth last July 11. He and his crew spent eight minutes in zero gravity.

Days later, Bezos made a similar trip with brother Mark Bezos and the 18-year-old Oliver Daemen--who was the first paying space tourist to book a seat on the space journey. They were also with the 82-year-old Wally Funk, who passed the NASA space program in the 1960s but never made it to space.

Bezos' contingent traveled 66 miles above the Earth, which is 13 miles higher than Branson's. Blue Origin will have a second space tourism mission this month, with Star Trek icon and actor William Shatner onboard.

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