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Project 863
Ambitious winged space shuttle concepts designed in China 1986-1988. Abandoned in favor of the more conservative and acheivable Shenzhou space capsule, although technology development of spaceplanes continued into the 21st Century.

Status: Design 1986.

In early spring 1986, members of a standing committee of the Chinese Academy of Sciences proposed a family of seven Project 863 plans to accelerate Chinese technical development. These numbered plans included section 863-204, a space transportation system. A tender call to Chinese industry resulted in 11 alternate proposals, of which six were selected for feasibility studies. These were delivered in June 1988. A review in 20-31 July, 1988 concluded that development of a winged reusable space shuttle system was acceptable as a national long-term goal to guide technology development. But China did not have aerodynamic or rocket technology to develop a hypersonic aircraft with reusable rocket engines. The two designs that were considered technically achievable were the Tian Jao 1 spaceplane and then Department 508 manned space capsule. After prolonged controversy, in 1989 Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping rejected both plans, saying that neither could be flying in his lifetime. The Chinese space establishment went back to the drawing board, leading in 1992 to Project 921 (the Shenzhou manned capsule).



Subtopics

Chang Cheng 1 Chinese winged orbital launch vehicle. The Chang Cheng 1 (Great Wall 1) vertical takeoff / horizontal landing two-stage space shuttle was a compromise design created jointly by Shanghai Astronautics Bureau 805 (now the Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight Technology) and Institute 604 of the Air Ministry in 1988. An expendable booster, consisting of three of Shanghai's planned liquid oxygen/kerosene modular boosters, would boost the winged second stage shuttle to a high altitude. The engines of the winged shuttle stage would take it to orbit. This approach would allow a first flight to be made in 2008.

H-2 HTOHL The H-2 horizontal takeoff / horizontal landing two-stage reusable space shuttle was proposed by Institute 601 of the Air Ministry in 1988. The first stage would used air breathing engines to accelerate the rocket-powered second stage to release velocity. This ambitious design would leapfrog China ahead of other spacefaring nations, but would be available no earlier than 2015. It was decided the concept was beyond Chinese technical capability, and it was not pursued further.

V-2 VTOHL Chinese winged orbital launch vehicle. The V-2 vertical takeoff / horizontal landing two-stage reusable space shuttle was proposed by Beijing Department 11 of the Air Ministry in 1988. The first stage would use liquid oxygen/kerosene engines, while the second would use liquid oxygen/hydrogen engines. Both stages would be winged, and first flight would be no earlier than 2015.

Tian Jiao 1 Chinese manned spaceplane. Study 1988. The Tian Jiao 1 (Pre-eminent in Space 1) manned spaceplane was proposed by the First Academy (now the China Academy of Launch Technology) in 1988.

Tian Jiao 2 Chinese manned spaceplane. Study 2006. What appeared to be an evolved version of 1988's Tian Jiao 1 manned spaceplane concept was proposed by the China Academy of Launch Technology in 2006. A 2020 operational date was mentioned.

Chinese RLV Chinese orbital launch vehicle. By the late 2000 a leading candidate for China's first reusable launch vehicle was a CALT-designed two-stage fully reusable rocket similar to the Kistler K-1.

Country: China.

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