The Reason China Plans To Build A Nearly Mile-Long Spaceship

The past few years have been exciting for astronomers, aeronautical engineers, and all lovers of space travel as new, private spaceships and Mars rovers have dominated recent headlines. Now China is making a bold statement for the future. The country plans to build by far and away the biggest, longest human-made object ever put into space as they investigate how to build a spaceship that's over half a mile in length (via Scientific American).

This supership is in response to a national call for research proposals to push China forward in the realm of the final frontier. If you're thinking this sounds like "Star Trek," that's a fair comparison. A research outline described the goals of the project to include "exploration of the mysteries of the universe" along with "long-term living in orbit." The research would focus on new design methods that would make material both durable enough for space travel yet lightweight enough to travel to the stars.

The megaship would be built in orbit

According to Tech Times, this space behemoth would actually be assembled in orbit, with materials launched into space from Earth. The process of creating materials, sending them into orbit, and attaching them in space would also be covered in the feasibility report, should the five-year process receive funding. The cost of figuring out if such a project is possible would be around $2.3 million.

The limit to this real-life Enterprise is engineering, not science, according to NASA employees questioned about the project. It's not completely insurmountable, with the biggest obstacle being the sheer scale of the ambitious proposal, and the inevitable eye-watering prices required to build and launch the materials needed. The International Space Station, which is a 10th of the size of the Chinese proposal, cost $100 billion to make, so something on this scale will surely bring a hefty bill. However, if the materials were light enough, and the ship was merely long but not necessarily heavy or massive, it could be feasible. One has to wonder what kind of structures we'll have among the stars in the decades and centuries to come.