China plans a fleet of nuclear carrier rockets and reusable hybrid-power carriers by the mid-2040s. They will be ready for regular, large scale interplanetary flights, and carrying out commercial exploration and exploitation of natural resources by the mid-2040s.
China plans to catch up with the United States on conventional rocket technology by 2020.
If Spacex and Elon Musk achieve fully reusable rockets with the Falcon 9 or the BFR in the 2020-2022 timeframe then China would be 13-15 years behind if they hit their target for reusable rockets in 2035.
By 2030, China will put astronauts on the moon and bring samples back from Mars.
China’s space transportation system road map:
By 2020, China’s mainstream rocket has reached the international first-class level and provides diversified commercial launch services globally.
By 2025, the successful development of reusable suborbital vehicles in China has made sub-orbital space travel a reality. Suborbital generally refers to airspace 20-100 km above the ground, between the highest flight altitude of an existing aircraft and the lowest orbital altitude of a satellite;
By the year 2030, the heavy launch vehicles will make their first flight and the level and capability of the space transport system will enter the ranks of the world’s space powers. 100 ton capacity heavy lift rockets by 2030.
By 2035, launch vehicles will be fully reusable
By 2040, the next generation of launch vehicles will be put into operation, and the space transportation system will achieve many interstellar roundtrips over a long period of time.
By 2045, our country has the capability of large-scale man-machine exploration space, and the equipment and technology as a whole are in the leading position in the world and will give full support to the full realization of the goal of becoming a powerful nation in space.
China’s 2030 heavy-duty launch vehicle will have a diameter of nearly 10 meters in the future and will use a liquid-oxygen kerosene engine with a thrust of 500 tons and a liquid-hydrogen liquid oxygen engine with a thrust of 220 tons.
In other words, in the future the capability of our country’s launch vehicles will increase 4 to 5 times from the current 20 tons to 100 tons.
China’s existing rockets have a diameter of 5 meters.
There are no details about what kind of nuclear rocket design is being proposed. However, it would likely be either a nuclear thermal rocket for launching heavier payloads and going more quickly to other planets or a nuclear electric system for moving beyond earth orbit.