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Crewed space missions call for colossal engineering projects.   Case in point, researchers in China are investigating the possibility of assembling a spacecraft in orbit. The project is part of the nation's ambitions to expand space exploration, which encompasses crewed missions operating on long-term timescales.   The proposal from the National Natural Science Foundation of China calls for an analysis of the mechanics of constructing an "ultra-large spacecraft spanning kilometers", according to an initial report from the South China Morning Post.   In other words, China just told the world it's interested in building a spacecraft that is miles long....

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