China intends to construct a gigantic spacecraft that will be nearly a mile in length.
ByShehryar Makhdoom | Published date:
The Chinese programme is designed to research the process of building a massive spaceship. China is examining the possibility of creating colossal spacecraft, which can measure up to 1 kilometre in length. Even if possible, how practical is the notion of a vessel of that size, and what use would it serve?
An open call for research studies has been issued by the National Natural Science Foundation of China, administered by the country's Ministry of Science and Technology. The initiative is a component of the more significant request.
A foundation-hosted research outline mentions spaceships of the future, describing them as "important strategic aeronautical equipment for the investigation of space resources, long-term life in orbit, and the secrets of the universe."
The foundation aims to investigate novel and compact, lightweight approaches that can restrict the quantity of construction material to the orbit and new strategies for ensuring that such large constructions are safely assembled in space. Assuming the project receives the necessary funding, the feasibility study will continue for five years and spend $2.3 million.
Mason Peck, a former NASA chief technologist, claims that the notion doesn't appear crazy when looking at the project objectively.
It's more of a difficulty when it comes to engineering rather than basic science.
There's a gigantic spaceship, and there's a significant problem.
Construction of this magnitude will likely encounter issues specific to it. Peck emphasized that whenever a spacecraft is manoeuvred or docked, the action transmits energy to the spacecraft's structure, causing it to shake and flex.
With such a large structure, these vibrations take a long time to settle. Therefore the spaceship will probably need shock absorbers or an active power filter to counter these vibrations.
Engineers will have to make sensible trade-offs when determining the spacecraft's orbital altitude, according to Peck. Since there is more drag at lower altitudes, low-altitude vehicles must spend a great deal of time continuously adjusting their orbits.
Peck explained that this problem already affects the ISS, but it would be a massive issue for a structure with more drag, a larger size, and a requirement for more fuel to manoeuvre it back into place.
The other issue is that an increased altitude means more costly propulsion, and radiation levels shoot up fast as you move away from Earth's atmosphere, which will be an issue if the spacecraft is carrying people.
Professor Michael Lembeck, a space flight engineer who has participated in government and private programmes, said the engineering is doable, but it wouldn't be realistic in any real-world setting.
In an interview with, he explained, "It's like us discussing the construction of the Starship Enterprise."
He stated, "It's imaginative, not practical, and it's cool to think about, but it's not really realistic in the face of our current technological constraints."
Lembeck stated that given the limited budget of the research endeavour, it is likely designed to be a short, academic study to discover deficiencies in the technology.
In comparison, building a capsule to transport humans to the International Space Station was $3 billion. "As a result, the amount of work here is extraordinarily low in comparison to the anticipated objectives," he noted.
Additionally, some are wondering what they would utilise it for. Lembeck further stated that options include microgravity production facilities that produce high-value objects like semiconductors and optical equipment or long-term dwellings for living off-world. In contrast, both are also expensive to maintain.