The presentation of a prototype space rocket shown by the president of the Chinese Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology (CALT) sparked suspicion for its resemblance to Starship, a prototype rocket from SpaceX, Elon’s aerospace company Musk.
The presentation took place during the International Symposium on the prospect of cooperation for human spaceflight and near-Earth orbit, held on February 17 under the auspices of the International Astronautical Federation (IAF), the Chinese Society of Astronautics (CSA also for its acronym in English) and the CALT.
“We investigated a methane-powered manned launch vehicle,” said Wang Xiaojun, showing slides of the rocket, very similar in design to Musk’s Starship.
The similarities go beyond design, and is that like the SpaceX rocket, the Chinese-made one would also be reusable and would work with a two-stage launch.
Once in orbit, the rocket would separate into two parts: the first would make a vertical landing, while the second would use the flaps on top to stabilize its trajectory and also make a vertical landing.
Despite the apparent similarities between the two rockets, there is one crucial difference: payload capacity. While the Chinese rocket would support just 20 tons, the SpaceX rocket foresees a load capacity of 100 tons and its use in long-term missions, such as those that are expected to start the colonization of Mars.