GAO Finds OSTP Violated Law By Meeting With Chinese

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has found that the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) violated a Congressional ban on meeting with Chinese officials. OSTP doesn’t deny violating the provision, which was included in a spending bill, but claims the ban is unconstitutional.

The GAO stated its conclusion in a letter sent this week to Rep. Frank Wolf, who had requested an inquiry. The GAO found that OSTP, which is an arm of the White House, had spent about $3,500 to lead and participate in a series of high-level meetings and events with Chinese officials in May concerning technology, intellectual property protection, climate change, joint cooperation and other matters.


China to Launch First Space Station Next Week

China's Tiangong-1 space laboratory with a Shenzhou spacecraft approaching it. (Credit: CNSA)

The Chinese Xinhua news agency reports that the nation will launch its first space station between Sept. 27 and 30.

The 8.5-metric ton Tiangong-1 (Heavenly Palace 1) is about half the size of the early Soviet Salyut space stations that were launched in the 1970s.  It will serve as docking target for three Shenzhou spacecraft. The first will dock unmanned to demonstrate that capability.  If that mission is successful, two crews will dock at the station and conduct experiments.

The launch of the station was delayed from early September because of a failure of a Long March rocket. Additional checks were required.

China Progresses on Long March 5 Rocket

China's Long March 5 family of rockets. Credit: Jirka Dlouhy

The Xinhua news agency reports on China’s rocket progress:

Production on a major part of China’s Long March-5 large-thrust carrier rocket has been completed and its maiden voyage is expected to take place during the country’s 12th Five-Year Plan period (2011-2015), according to its producer.

The Long March-5 rocket is scheduled to be put into service in 2014,Liang Xiaohong, deputy head of the CASC-affiliated China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology which designs and produces the rocket, has said during previous interviews.

With a maximum low Earth-orbit payload capacity of 25 tonnes and high Earth-orbit payload capacity of 14 tonnes, Long March V rockets will be among the world’s leaders in payload capacity and reliability, Liang said, adding that the 25-tonne maximum capacity is 2.5 times that of in-service Long March rockets.

The production of a core cabin for China’s manned space station and large satellites will also begin during the 2011-2015 period, Ma said.

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China Plans Early September Launch for Tiangong-1 Space Station

The Tiangong-1 space station with a Shenzhou spacecraft. Credit: CNSA

The People’s Daily reports:

According to an unnamed source in a position of authority in Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, the remarkable Chinese unmanned space module Tiangong 1 will be launched soon.

However, because the experimental orbiter SJ-11-04, which was launched last week, failed to enter Earth’s orbit, the launch of Tiangong 1 has been postponed until early September.


Report: Chinese Space Station Tiangong 1 Enters Countdown

China's Tiangong-1 space laboratory with a Shenzhou spacecraft approaching it. (Credit: CNSA)

A report on the China National Space Administration website indicates that  the Tiangong 1 (Heavenly Palace) space station is in its countdown. “Reporters learned from the Chinese military networks, at present, ‘Tiangong’ has entered the countdown,” according to the report. It will be launched by a Long March II-F rocket.

Chinese Space Station Shipped to Launch Site

The Tiangong-1 space station with a Shenzhou spacecraft. Credit: CNSA

China’s Tiangong 1 space station has passed its factory evaluation and was shipped to the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center on June 29 to be prepped for launch within the next three months, the China National Space Administration announced.

China plans to launch the small space station on a Long March IIF rocket by the end of September. The unmanned Shenzhou VIII vehicle will dock with the facility weeks later to test the rendezvous and docking system. Two human missions will follow.

Nine meters (30 feet) and weighing 9,500 kilograms (19,000 lbs.), Tiangong 1 is roughly half the size of Salyut 1, the first space station sent into orbit by Russia in 1971.

China Leases High-Res Satellites From British Firm

DMCii PR — UK-based satellite imagery provider DMC International Imaging Ltd (DMCii) signed a £110m [$177 million] deal with Beijing-based company 21AT, to provide access to high-resolution satellite imagery for its customers during the Chinese premier’s UK visit. 21AT will lease capacity from three new satellites that are to be launched into a new Earth Observation constellation “DMC3” which will be owned and operated by DMCii.

House Measure Would Prohibit NASA Cooperation With China

House Republicans have decided that they, rather than President Barack Obama, should run foreign policy as it relates to NASA’s international outreach efforts. House appropriators have inserted a provision into a proposed continuing resolution to fund that government that prohibits any joint cooperation between NASA and China on space.

Review Commission Wants Data on Chinese Space Program

A taikonaut emerges from China's Shenzhou 7 spacecraft after a successful orbital flight

U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission
Request for Proposals
January 24th, 2011

Period of Proposal Submissions Ends:
5:30 PM, February 9th, 2011

The U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission (hereafter “the Commission”) invites submission of proposals to provide a one-time unclassified report on the development of the national space program of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), and the potential impacts on future U.S. economic and national security.

About Proposals

The Commission solicits proposals from contractors capable of providing a one-time unclassified report on the development of China’s national space program, and the potential impacts on future U.S. economic and national security. Key issues and questions to be addressed by the report are:

1.Identify and assess the major motivating factors behind the PRC government’s investments in the space program. Is it motivated primarily by military concerns? Commercial interests? National pride? Or some combination of these or other factors?


U.S., China Reaffirm Commitment to Deepen Space Cooperation

U.S. – China Joint Statement

President Barack Obama of the United States of America
President Hu Jintao of the People’s Republic of China

10.  The United States and China agreed to take specific actions to deepen dialogue and exchanges in the field of space.  The United States invited a Chinese delegation to visit NASA headquarters and other appropriate NASA facilities in 2011 to reciprocate for the productive visit of the U.S. NASA Administrator to China in 2010.  The two sides agreed to continue discussions on opportunities for practical future cooperation in the space arena, based on principles of transparency, reciprocity, and mutual benefit.

11.  The United States and China acknowledged the accomplishments under the bilateral Agreement on Cooperation in Science and Technology, one of the longest-standing bilateral agreements between the two countries, and welcomed the signing of its extension.  The United States and China will continue to cooperate in such diverse areas as agriculture, health, energy, environment, fisheries, student exchanges, and technological innovation in order to advance mutual well-being.

Russians Visit China to Promote IGMASS Cooperation


In early 2011, International Public Committee on IGMASS (international global natural and industrial emergency aerospace monitoring system) (IGMASS IPC) has made steps to promote the project in China.

Roscosmos representatives, Russian experts of Space Systems R&D presented IGMASS in Beijing on Jan. 10-13, IPC executive secretary Sergey Cherkas informed.


China Developing Advanced Long March Engines

China Developing New Rocket Engines
Aviation Week

China is advancing its space capabilities by developing staged combustion, an engine technology that is likely to offer greater performance for the Long March 6 and 7, two of a family of launchers that the country will field around the middle of the decade.

The smaller of the two, the Long March 6, may be the first to go into service, beating the flagship third member of the family, the Long March 5 heavy launcher.

A new 18-metric-ton-thrust engine “is a high-altitude liquid oxygen and kerosene engine with a staged combustion cycle and has been indigenously designed by China,” says national space contractor CASC.

If successfully executed, this technology would offer a high specific impulse, a key measure of rocket performance that compares the duration and level of thrust with the mass of fuel consumed in generating it. The practical result should be a greater payload to orbit for a launcher of a given size. The improved performance will probably be essential for China’s next generation of launchers to be competitive as the technology becomes increasingly common in the future.

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Chances of Sino-American Space Cooperation Low

A taikonaut emerges from China's Shenzhou 7 spacecraft after a successful orbital flight

Space: a frontier too far for US-China cooperation

The prospects for cooperation between the United States and China in space are fading even as proponents say working together in the heavens could help build bridges in often-testy relations on Earth.

The idea of joint ventures in space, including spacewalks, explorations and symbolic “feel good” projects, have been floated from time to time by leaders on both sides.

Efforts have gone nowhere over the past decade, swamped by economic, diplomatic and security tensions, despite a 2009 attempt by President Barack Obama and his Chinese counterpart, Hu Jintao, to kick-start the bureaucracies.

U.S. domestic politics make the issue unlikely to advance when Obama hosts Hu at the White House on Jan. 19.

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Bolden: NASA Moving Slowly on Cooperation With China, Russia

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden

Aviation Week was able to talk to press-shy NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, who says that NASA is taking a slow approach to cooperation with China and a list of proposed joint projects with the Russians:

Bolden suggested space cooperation has been subsumed in larger financial issues that will be addressed when Chinese President Hu Jintao visits the U.S. in January, with the Executive Office of the President, the White House science office and the National Security Council working to coordinate a bilateral space meeting through the State Department.

Similarly, [Roscosmos Head Anatoly] Permanov’s [sic] list of possible new space ventures with NASA, including development of a nuclear propulsion system, joint missions to low lunar orbit and asteroids, and a robotic landing on Mercury, is going nowhere fast. The Russian space leader presented the list at a Nov. 18 meeting of the bilateral Space Cooperation Working Group, but Bolden says the most substantive work involved protocols for future meetings. The U.S. hopes to use the list of possible bilateral projects as a way to encourage Russia to take a more active role in the multilateral working group coordinating long-term space exploration plans.

“If the international partners think it’s worthwhile, we the United States would be more than happy to do a bilateral effort with the Russians, but we wanted that to be international instead of just the United States and Russia deciding something off on the side.”

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