The competition heats up: China has begun development of two versions of a second generation manned capsule.
Instead of the three-module arrangement of the current Shenzhou vehicle, the future Chinese crew vehicle will adopt a two-module arrangement, with a large inhabitable crew module at the front, and an uninhabitable cylindrical-shaped service module at back. The size of the re-entry vehicle will be twice of Shenzhou’s, capable of accommodating up to six crew members. A docking port and its associated docking sensors are fitted to the front-end of the crew module. The spacecraft can be fitted with two different service modules, with different propulsion systems and propellant capacities.
In other words, rather than copy and upgrade the design of the Russian Soyuz, as they did with their Shenzhou capsule, they will copy and upgrade the American Apollo capsule.
From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.
Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.
The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.
He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.
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