The China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, which is the main contractor for the country’s space program, has hinted at an ambitious plan that involves developing a nuclear-powered space shuttle. This was mentioned in a roadmap for China’s future space endeavors that highlights want the country wants to achieve in the final frontier by 2040 and beyond.
The future plans include an expansion of the Long March rocket family that China has been using since the 1970s. China is aiming to complete the Long March 8 low-cost rocket in a couple of years. This will allow the CASC to compete more effectively in the space sector by selling launch services to other countries.
CASC’s plans also include building a reusable space plane by 2025 which will be used for the purpose of space tourism. Some private companies are already working to enable people to take trips to space as well.
The country is aiming to make all of the rocket in its Long March family reusable in less than 20 years. It also wants to create all-new launch vehicles by 2040. The launch vehicles will be used for multiple interstellar round-trips, using asteroid mining to exploit space resources, and constructing megaprojects such as a space-based solar power station.
CASC mentions a nuclear-powered space shuttle as one of the goals that it aims to achieve by 2040 but it hasn’t provided many details about that as yet. It’s clear that the country is seriously considering this so this is certainly going to be something to keep an eye out for.