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Archive for the ‘Chinese Space Station’ Category

China launches 30-day manned mission to test space station

By Stephen Feller

Oct. 16, 2016

BEIJING, Oct. 16 (UPI) — Two Chinese astronauts lifted off for the longest manned mission in the history of China’s space program — a full month.

The Shenzhou-11 spacecraft blasted toward orbit Sunday night and is expected to dock with the Tiangong-2 space station in two days to start a 30-day mission conducting experiments and testing the station’s systems.

“The rocket is flying according to its original plan and the Shenzhou spacecraft has entered into its preliminary orbit,” said Gen. Zhang Youxia, chief commander of China’s human space program. “The solar panel has been unfolded and the crew is in great condition. Hereby I announce the launch of Shenzhou-11 is a complete success.”

During their 30 days in space, the astronauts will test computers and propulsion and life support systems aboard the Tiangong-2. The crew will also carry out science experiments, monitor changes in their own bodies, conduct three student experiments, plant growth studies and test orbital repair techniques.

Work at the lab is part of China’s plans to build a permanent space station in 2018, in addition to planning a lunar probe for the far side of the moon in 2018, unmanned mission to Mars in 2020 and a manned lunar mission in 2025.

Source: United Press International (UPI).


China’s second space lab Tiangong-2 reaches launch center

Jiuquan (XNA)

Jul 14, 2016

China’s second orbiting space lab Tiangong-2, which may enable two astronauts to live in space for up to 30 days, has been delivered to Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center.

The lab was sent from Beijing Thursday by railway and reached the launch center Saturday, marking the start of the Tiangong-2 and Shenzhou-11 manned spacecraft missions, said a statement issued by China’s manned space engineering office.

Assembly and tests will begin at the center ahead of the lab’s launch scheduled for mid-September, the statement said.

According to the statement, Tiangong-2 will be capable of receiving manned and cargo spaceships, and will be a testing place for systems and processes for mid-term space stays and refueling in space.

It will also be involved in experiments on aerospace medicine, space sciences, on-orbit maintenance and space station technologies.

China’s first space lab Tiangong-1, which was launched in September 2011 with a designed life of two years, ended its data service earlier this year. It had docked with Shenzhou-8, Shenzhou-9 and Shenzhou-10 spacecraft and undertook a series of experiments.

The manned space engineering office said in March this year that the orbit of Tiangong-1 would descend gradually in several months until the orbiter eventually burn up in the atmosphere.

With two capsules for conducting experiments and holding resources, Tiangong-2 features major improvements from its predecessor, including an improved propel sub-system.

The new space lab will also carry three experiments designed by the winners of a Hong Kong middle school design contest, the statement said.

Carrier rockets to launch Tiangong-2 and Shenzhou-11 will be transferred to Jiuquan next month.

Shenzhou-11, which will carry two astronauts to dock with Tiangong-2 in space, has passed initial tests, and its crew members are undergoing intensive training, the statement said.

Source: Space Daily.


China plans to launch core module of space station around 2018

Beijing (XNA)

Apr 22, 2016

China will launch a core module belonging to its first space station around 2018, according to a senior engineer with China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp. on Thursday. Two space labs will be launched later and dock with the core module, “Tianhe-1,” said Wang Zhongyang, spokesperson with a key research institute attached to the corporation.

The construction of space station is expected to finish in 2022, Wang said.

China set to launch “more livable” space lab in Q3

China will put the country’s second space lab Tiangong-2 into space in the third quarter of this year with more livable conditions for astronauts, a spokesman said here Thursday.

According to Wang Zhongyang, spokesman with the China Academy of Space Technology (CAST), the new space lab will consist of a hermetically sealed experiment cabin, designed to provide astronauts with clean air and suitable temperature and humidity, and a resource module featuring solar wings, batteries and propellant for thrusters.

“We have specifically modified the interior of the new space lab to make it more livable for mid-term stays for our astronauts,” Wang said ahead of the country’s Space Day on April 24, set to mark the launch of China’s first satellite 46 years ago.

Tiangong-2 is China’s second space lab designed to carry out space science experiments and repair tests to pave way for the country’s first orbital space station which is expected to be in service around 2022.

Tiangong-1, launched in September 2011 with an initial design life of two years, just ended its data service earlier this year after an operational orbit of 1,630 days during which it docked with the Shenzhou-8, Shenzhou-9 and Shenzhou-10 spacecraft and undertook a series of experiments.

“Unlike Tiangong-1, Tiangong-2 will be our first genuine space lab,” said Wang.

Earlier reports said Tiangong-2 will dock with the Shenzhou-11 spacecraft, which is expected to blast off in the fourth quarter and carry two male Chinese astronauts for a 30-day mission in the new space lab before returning to Earth.

The astronauts are currently receiving training.

In 2017, Tiangong-2 will dock with China’s first space cargo ship Tianzhou-1, which will be launched in the first half of next year on top of a next generation Long March-7 rocket. Scientists will verify key technologies such as propellant refueling while in orbit during the process.

China’s multi-billion-dollar space endeavors have become a source of surging national pride and a milestone of China’s global stature and technical expertise.

The country sent its first astronaut into space in 2003, the third nation after Russia and the United States to achieve manned space travel independently. In 2008, astronauts aboard Shenzhou-7 made China’s first space walk.

Source: Space Daily.


China’s first space lab in operation for over 1000 days

Beijing (XNA)

Sep 29, 2014

Tiangong-1, China’s first space lab, has been in orbit for 1092 days since it was launched on September 29, 2011. The space lab, which is in sound condition, is able to complete more operation time in orbit, according to Wang Zhaoyao, director of China’s manned space program office.

Careful maintenance and monitoring will be carried out to ensure that the space lab, which was initially designed to stay in orbit for two years, will still be operational.

The 8.5-tonne Tiangong-1, with a length of 10.4 meters and maximum diameter of 3.35 meters, provides a 15-cubic-meter space for three astronauts to live and work.

It docked with the manned Shenzhou-9 spacecraft with three astronauts on board in June 2012. In June 2013, Shenzhou-10 docked with the lab and three astronauts delivered a physics lesson aboard Tiangong-1.

According to Wang, the Tiangong-2 space lab is scheduled to be launched in 2016, and the Shenzhou-11 spacecraft and Tianzhou-1 cargo spacecraft will be launched to dock with it.

Around 2022, the nation’s first space station will be completed.

Since the government approved a manned station program in 2010, the program has been progressing steadily, with various modules, space vehicles and ground facilities under development.

Source: Space Daily.


Wenchang to launch China’s next space station

Beijing (XNA)

Oct 28, 2014

China’s fourth space launch center, the Wenchang satellite launch center in south China’s Hainan Province, will launch the country’s space station and cargo spacecrafts.

Tao Zhongshan, chief engineer of the Xichang launch center, told Xinhua on Sunday that the new center will be used mainly for geosynchronous orbiters, large-tonnage space stations, cargo spacecraft, and large polar orbit satellites.

Wenchang has an advantage for transportation of modules of such spacecraft as it is located near a seaport. The site’s low latitude will also help the carrying capacity of rockets by about 10 percent, compared to Xichang.

The Chang’e-5 moonlander, which will collect samples and return to Earth, will be launched from Wenchang, probably in 2017.

Once put into use, Wenchang, along with the three other centers in Jiuquan, Xichang and Taiyuan, will all have their different functions.

In a recent interview, Yang Liwei, China’s first astronaut and deputy chief of China’s Manned Space Agency, said the Tiangong-2 space lab will be launched around 2016, followed by the Shenzhou-11 spacecraft and Tianzhou cargo craft to rendezvous with the lab.

A core module for space station will be launched around 2018 and the station will be completed around 2022.

Source: Space Daily.


China plans to launch Tiangong-2 space lab around 2015

Beijing (XNA)

Jun 27, 2013

China will continue to carry out development and construction of space lab and plans to launch Tiangong-2 space lab around 2015, an aerospace official said Wednesday.

This is in line with China’s overall outline and plan for the country’s manned space program, Wang Zhaoyao, director of China’s manned space program office, told a press conference after the reentry module of the Shenzhou-10 spacecraft landed after a 15-day mission.

Wang said the engineering work of a manned space station is carried out simultaneously according to the plan, and China plans to put in orbit an experimental core module of space station around 2018.

By 2020, China’s manned space station would be built, he added.

Prior to that, China will launch a series of cargo and manned spacecraft to deliver material supplies and transport astronauts to the future space lab and space station, Wang said.

Source: Space Daily.


Shenzhou 10 Returns Safely To Earth

by Dr Morris Jones

Sydney, Australia (SPX)

Jun 26, 2013

The safe return of the Shenzhou 10 spacecraft has resolved more questions about China’s latest astronaut mission. Clearly, Shenzhou 10’s expedition to the Tiangong 1 space laboratory has been successful. However, some mysteries remain about the events on this flight, and the overall direction for China’s space program.

The most outstanding mystery surrounding Shenzhou 10 began long before the spacecraft was rolled out to the Launchpad. This is the strange media and public relations strategy that was apparent to analysts weeks before the mission began. China is notorious for its tight management of media access to its space program, and we did not expect a high level of openness for this mission.

However, it is obvious that there has been a major step backwards in terms of media access. The reportage on Shenzhou 10 stands in high contrast to the very good coverage provided for the Shenzhou 9 mission just a year earlier. Live television coverage of key events was either curtailed or entirely deleted. Why was this done? At face value, it seems that China lost more than it gained (if it gained anything at all) from the policy shift.

There was also a strange modus of identifying the crew. In an unusual pattern of disclosure, China confirmed that female astronaut Wang Yaping would be on the flight weeks before the countdown began. This was surprising, as crews for missions are normally kept officially secret until just before launch. At the same time, the identities of the two astronauts who would join her were not disclosed, and they were not officially named until less than a day before liftoff.

Although we were pleased to see Wang named for the flight and celebrated the publicity for her achievements, the uneven pattern of reportage was perplexing. Was there an internal political agenda at work? It’s possible that naming Wang in public at an early stage would make it difficult to remove her from the mission later on. If this was an issue, does this suggest that there was still some uncertainty over the crew for the mission, with disputes over who would be aboard? This is a plausible theory.

We also have only a basic understanding of the tasks performed by the crew aboard the Tiangong module. The astronauts were docked there for roughly twelve days. The most visible activity performed on Tiangong was a science lesson for Chinese students performed by Wang Yaping. China has spoken in vague terms of medical and engineering experiments but supplied no real details. In this regard, the work on the Shenzhou 10 mission has been reported in the same way as for Shenzhou 9, which was also covered without specifics on the experiments. These mysteries have been compounded by the overall lack of media coverage of the mission.

We can speculate that most of the medical experiments performed by the Shenzhou 10 crew were tests on the health of the astronauts themselves. We can also speculate on why China was so tight-lipped with its media coverage.

This analyst contrasts the relatively good coverage of the Shenzhou 9 mission, launched just last year, with the near-blackout strategy this time. In this analyst’s view, the change is probably connected to the rise of Xi Jinping as the President of China, and the reshuffle of other senior positions in China’s leadership.

Mr Xi is a new leader who is still probably consolidating his credibility within the government and the public. As such, he could feel more vulnerable to bad news than his predecessor. The restricted coverage of Shenzhou 10 could be a defensive strategy to help downplay any mishaps that could reflect badly on Mr Xi. It would be unwise and unfair to blame any problems with the Shenzhou mission on Mr Xi, but as the leader of the nation, he is seen to be connected to any major state event.

This analyst hopes that the success of the Shenzhou 10 mission will inspire China to loosen its media policies for subsequent space missions, including the upcoming landing of a robot rover on the Moon. In time, the space program will probably prove its worth as an asset instead of a liability. And Mr Xi himself will probably grow more comfortable in his leadership.

As with most missions in China’s fairly closed space program, some mysteries will take years to disclose, and some interesting stories will probably never leak out. There will hopefully be more disclosure when the International Astronautical Congress takes place in Beijing later this year. Mysteries may be frustrating, but they provide plenty of fodder for an international community of space analysts and fans.

Source: Space Daily.


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