Completing our look at the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission’s 2019 Report to Congress, we examine how China is using its space program to achieve the nation’s geopolitical and economic goals. [Full Report]
by Douglas Messier Managing Editor
China is using its growing space program to achieve a range of geopolitical and economic goals, including attracting partners for its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), improving economic and political ties with other countries, and deepening others’ reliance on its space systems and data services.
“Beijing views its space program as key to elevating its leadership profile in international space cooperation, including through BRI, and establishing a dominant position in the commercial space industry,” according to the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission’s 2019 Report to Congress.
Continuing our look at the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission’s 2019 Report to Congress, we present the following excerpt concerning senior Chinese government officials with aerospace and technical backgrounds. [Full Report]
Confused by the acronyms in the table below? Parabolic Arc has added descriptions of the listed ministries and companies.
Many officials with backgrounds in the state defense complex have moved to senior government positions. While not all of these officials have backgrounds in space specifically, the result of these moves has been that senior Chinese political leaders often have a stronger technical understanding of the space sector than their foreign counterparts (see Addendum I listing key Chinese officials with aerospace sector backgrounds).
Continuing our look at the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission’s 2019 Report to Congress, we examine how China is seeking to shape the governance of space activities. [Full Report]
by Douglas Messier Managing Editor
China’s actions in asserting sovereignty over the disputed South China Sea could serve as a model by which that nation would claim extraterrestrial resources and consolidate its control over key space assets, a new report to the U.S. Congress warned.
“Contrary to international norms governing the exploration and commercial exploitation of space, statements from senior Chinese officials signal Beijing’s belief in its right to claim use of space-based resources in the absence of a clear legal framework specifically regulating mining in space,” according to the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission’s 2019 report.
BEIJING (CNES PR) — Wednesday 6 November, on the occasion of President Emmanuel Macron’s state visit to the People’s Republic of China, CNES President Jean-Yves Le Gall and Zhang Kejian, Administrator of the China National Space Administration (CNSA), signed in the presence of Presidents Macron and Xi Jinping a joint statement covering two fields of investigation.
First, in 2023 China’s Chang’e 6 lunar mission will fly the French DORN instrument proposed by the IRAP astrophysics and planetology research institute. DORN’s science goals are to study the transport of volatiles through the lunar regolith and in the lunar exosphere and lunar dust.
The year 2018 was the busiest one for launches in decades. There were a total of 111 completely successful launches out of 114 attempts. It was the highest total since 1990, when 124 launches were conducted.
China set a new record for launches in 2018. The nation launched 39 times with 38 successes in a year that saw a private Chinese company fail in the country’s first ever orbital launch attempt.
The Associated Pressreports that China and the United States exchanged data about the landing of the former’s Chang’e-4 spacecraft on the moon earlier this month despite severe limits placed on space cooperation between the two nations by the U.S. Congress.
The space agency’s deputy director, Wu Yanhua, said NASA shared information about its lunar orbiter satellite in hopes of monitoring the landing of the Chang’e 4 spacecraft, which made China the first country to land on the far side of the moon earlier this month.
China in turn shared the time and coordinates of Chang’e 4’s scheduled landing, Wu told reporters during a briefing on the lunar mission. He added that while NASA’s satellite did not catch the precise moment of landing, it took photographs of the area afterward.
The state-run China Daily said that was the first such form of cooperation since the 2011 U.S. law was enacted.
China’s aggressive long-range program explore the moon includes a heavy focus on the south pole where probes have detected water.
China’s Chang’e-4 mission is currently exploring the moon with a rover and lander on the far side. The vehicles are communicating with Earth via an orbiting spacecraft. The Chang’e-4 mission also includes two lunar CubeSats, one of which is still operational.
China plans to launch the Chang’e-5 mission by the end of 2020 to bring back soil samples from the lunar surface. The plan is to bring back at least 2 kg (4.4 lb) of soil from the Mons Rümker region in the northwest section of the moon.
Xinhua reports there are three other moon missions planned in the years ahead:
Chang’e-7, set for launch in 2023, will carry out comprehensive surveys of the south pole;
Chang’e-6, scheduled to be launched in 2024, will bring back samples from the lunar south pole; and,
Chang’e-8, scheduled for launch in 2027, will test technologies to lay the ground work for a research base on the lunar surface.
China expects to conduct crewed missions to a lunar base sometime during the 2030’s.
The Chang’e 4 robotic probe is expected to land on the South Pole–Aitken basin on the silver sphere’s far side sometime between Wednesday and Thursday, according to information from China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp, a major contractor of the country’s lunar exploration programs.
The State-owned conglomerate previously said that the spacecraft would fly 26 days before landing on the lunar surface.
Chang’e 4 was lifted atop a Long March 3B carrier rocket on Dec 8 at the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Southwest China’s Sichuan province to fulfill the world’s first expedition on a lunar region that never faces the Earth.
The lander includes the following payloads:
landing and terrain cameras;
a low-frequency spectrometer;
a lunar lander neutrons and dosimetry (LND) dosimeter supplied by Kiel University in Germany;
a container with silkworm eggs and seeds of potatoes and Arabidopsis thaliana; and,
a miniature camera to record the growth of the eggs and seeds.
The rover’s payloads include:
a panoramic camera;
a lunar penetrating radar system;
a visible and near-infrared imaging spectrometer; and,
and an advanced small analyzer for neutrals (ASAN) analyzer provided by the Swedish Institute of Space Physics (IRF) to measure the interaction of the solar winds with the lunar surface.
The lander and rover will communicate with the Chang’e 4 relay satellite, which was launched last year.
China’s Chang’e-4 spacecraft lowered its orbit around the moon on Sunday in preparation for a landing on the lunar far side, Xinhua reports. The mission consists of a stationary lander and a rover.
The probe has entered an elliptical lunar orbit, with the perilune at about 15 km and the apolune at about 100 km, at 8:55 a.m. Beijing Time, said CNSA.
Since the Chang’e-4 entered the lunar orbit on Dec. 12, the ground control center in Beijing has trimmed the probe’s orbit twice and tested the communication link between the probe and the relay satellite Queqiao, or Magpie Bridge, which is operating in the halo orbit around the second Lagrangian (L2) point of the earth-moon system….
The control center will choose a proper time to land the probe on the far side of the moon, according to CNSA.
BEIJING (CNES PR) — In the presence of Bernard Larrouturou, General Director of Research and Innovation, Jean-Yves Le Gall, President of CNES, spoke on Monday, December 10, 2018 in Beijing, as part of the preparation of the joint scientific and technological committee Franco -Chinese and presented the space cooperation between France and China.
On this day, he also had the opportunity to speak with Wang Zhigang, Minister of Science and Technology, Zhang Kejian, CNSA Administrator, and Wang Zhenyu, head of the CNSA’s Office of International Cooperation. Chinese Academy of Sciences.
HONG KONG (PolyU PR) — The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) proudly supports the nation’s current lunar exploration, Chang’e-4 lunar probe, with advanced technologies, namely the design and development of an advanced Camera Pointing System, and an innovative lunar topographic mapping and geomorphological analysis technique in landing site charaterisation for the space craft.
Video Caption: China’s Chang’e-4 lunar mission was launched by a Long March-3B rocket from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center, Sichuan Province, southwest China, on 7 December 2018, at 18:23 UTC (8 December at 02:23 local time). The Chang’e-4 (嫦娥四号) lunar mission (lander and rover) is scheduled to land in the Aitken crater, located in the Aitken Basin, in the South Pole region on the far side of the Moon.
Chinese officials report the Chang’e-4 relay satellite has entered its planned orbit, where it will await the year-end launch of the program’s lunar lander and rover bound for the far side of the moon.
The satellite, named Queqiao (Magpie Bridge) and launched on May 21, entered the Halo orbit around the second Lagrangian (L2) point of the Earth-Moon system, about 65,000 km from the Moon, at 11:06 a.m. Thursday after a journey of more than 20 days.
“The satellite is the world’s first communication satellite operating in that orbit, and will lay the foundation for the Chang’e-4, which is expected to become the world’s first soft-landing, roving probe on the far side of the Moon,” said Zhang Hongtai, president of the China Academy of Space Technology (CAST)….
He said the Halo orbit was a three-dimensional irregular curve. It is extremely difficult and complex to maintain the satellite in orbit.
“If there is a tiny disturbance, such as gravitational disturbance from other planets or the Sun, the satellite will leave orbit. The orbit period is about 14 days. According to our current plan, we will conduct orbit maintenance every seven days,” Zhang said.
TOKYO (ROSCOSMOS PR) — On March 3, 2018, the Roscosmos State Corporation and the Chinese National Space Administration, in the framework of the International Space Development Forum (ISEF) in Tokyo, signed an agreement on intentions for cooperation in the field of exploration of the Moon and deep space, and the creation of a Data Center on lunar projects.
The sides expressed their readiness to consider the possibility of cooperation in the implementation of the Russian mission to launch the orbital spacecraft Luna-Resurs-1 (Luna-26) in 2022, as well as the planned Chinese mission for landing in the region of the south pole of the Moon in 2023. The document was signed by the general director of Roskosmos state corporation Igor Komarov and the deputy head of the Chinese national space administration Y. Yanhua.