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A Nuclear Space Shuttle by 2040 – the aim of China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (

China Wants a Nuclear Space Shuttle by 2040  China’s primary space contractor reveals its roadmap for the next few decades. By Nov 17, 2017, Don’t sleep on the Chinese space program. China has already launched two space stations into orbit, and according to a recently released roadmap, the country is looking to build a reusable rocket, a massive cargo rocket, and a nuclear-powered space shuttle over the next few decades.

The roadmap was released by the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), China’s primary space contractor. CASC is the company that builds China’s successful Long March family of rockets, and its roadmap sets the company’s goals from the end of this year all the way out to 2045.

The first goal is to have the next-gen Long March 8 rocket ready by 2020. This rocket is currently in development and designed to be a low-cost, light payload rocket that can carry small satellites to orbit.

Then, in 2025, CASC plans to have developed a reusable space plane that can take off and land horizontally. This space plane would be a two-stage-to-orbit spacecraft primarily used for space tourism. The company hopes to improve on this design and complete a single-stage-to-orbit plane by 2030.

This plan is, in a word, ambitious. While a few single-stage-to-orbit aircraft have been considered in the past, none have made it to the prototype stage and all have been abandoned as impractical. But CASC’s plan is not done there.

By 2035 the company wants to make its entire line of rockets reusable, and by 2040 it hopes to have an entirely new line of launch vehicles. These will include a nuclear-powered space plane and other vehicles capable of “multiple interstellar round-trips, exploiting space resources through asteroid mining and constructing megaprojects such as a space-based solar power station,” whatever that means.

Of course, just because CASC puts these ambitious goals in a roadmap doesn’t mean any of them will actually happen, but it does show that the Chinese space community is confident about what they think they’ll achieve over the next few decades. We’ll just have to wait and see if that confidence will pay off.


November 17, 2017 - Posted by | China, technology

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