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Global Times

Unknown malfunction during cargo return capsule re-entry: CMSA

Global Times

Source:Global Times Published: 2020/5/6 16:27:08

A test version of China's first flexible and inflatable cargo return capsule, which was launched into orbit on Tuesday by the Long March-5B's maiden flight, experienced a failure during its re-entry to Earth due to an unknown malfunction, the China Manned Space Agency (CMSA) announced on Wednesday.

The cause of the malfunction is under investigation, the CMSA said.

Ji Qiming, an official with the CMSA, said at a Tuesday press conference that the cargo return capsule, which is flexible and inflatable, was China's new-generation test vehicle for space cargo, and the mission was intended to test the key re-entry technology of inflatable unfolding style.

According to the Xinhua News Agency, the development of the new cargo return capsule is intended to provide more agile space cargo shipments at a lower cost. The idea of an inflatable capsule was developed by the Second Academy of the China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp starting in 2014, in order to increase reliability and significantly lower costs in the payload return process.

China's latest state-of-the-art carrier rocket, the Long March-5B, made a successful maiden flight on Tuesday. During that flight, the new rocket sent the assembly of a trial version of the country's new-generation manned spaceship - without a crew in this case - and the testing cargo return capsule into planned orbit.

The trial version of China's new-generation manned spaceship has completed duties including solar sail deployment, relay antenna deployment and autonomous orbit control.

The spaceship maintained a steady flight form and was in a good working condition as of press time with normal functioning of electricity supply and measurement links, according to the Chinese authority.

The successful launch signaled that a new era of in China's manned space projects including space stations has officially begun, according to rocket developers and space industry insiders.

Ji revealed that China aims to complete the construction of its space station by roughly 2022, which involves 12 flight missions.

After the Tuesday debut flight of the Long March-5B, there will be launch missions of the Tianhe core cabin, as well as the Wentian and Mengtian lab cabins – which are modules of the space station, Ji said.

There will also be four launch missions each for the Shenzhou manned spaceship and the Tianzhou cargo spaceships, to allow astronauts to rotate time in space and cargo supply.

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