Roscosmos Deputy Throws Cold Water on New Space Station, Chinese Visit to ISS

The Shenzhou 10 crew prior to launch. (Credit: CNSA)
The Shenzhou 10 crew prior to launch. (Credit: CNSA)

Roscosmos deputy head Sergey Savelyev said Russia has no current plans to build a successor to the International Space Station before 2025. He also characterized the possibility of the Chinese Shenzhou crewed spacecraft docking at ISS as highly improbable, the Russian news agency TASS reports.

“A possibility of creating a new Russian space station does exist in principle. Such project may be implemented in international cooperation, with China for example. But neither the current, nor the draft of a future federal space program have such provisions. Such project can be linked with the lifecycle of the International Space Station,” he said.

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Chinese Move Forward With Space Station Plans

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

Chinese officials say they are looking to complete a permanent, multi-module space station in Earth orbit in about eight years, according to media reports.

The plan calls for the launch of the Tiangong-2 space lab around 2016. The three-person Shenzhou-11 spacecraft and Tianzhou-1 automated cargo freighter will dock with the space station.

Around 2018, China plans to launch the core module for a larger space station that will be completed around 2022, officials said.

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Is China Planning Test of Human Lunar Vehicle?

shenzhou1Toward the end of the year, China will launch a spacecraft to the moon that will return for a soft landing on Earth.  Officially, this is a test of a ship that will return soil samples from the moon, but Morris Jones suspects there’s more to it than that:

This analyst also suspects that China is also testing technology for a future Chinese astronaut launch to the Moon. The re-entry capsule is a scale replica of the capsule used on China’s Shenzhou astronaut spacecraft.

China has not released a lot of information on the mission, and has not even revealed any diagrams or photographs of the entire spacecraft. We have seen the re-entry module in photographs, but little else….

We believed that China would fly this mission in a free-return trajectory to the Moon. This meant that the spacecraft would fly around the far side of the Moon and use the Moon’s gravity to sling it back to Earth.

This mission profile was used by the Soviet Union’s “Zond” lunar probes, which were themselves tests for a cosmonaut launch to the Moon that never happened. A free-return trajectory was also used to bring the ill-fated Apollo 13 mission back to Earth.

Recently, a story published by China’s state news agency Xinhua gave a different perspective. It claims that the spacecraft will actually enter orbit around the Moon.

Read the full story.

China Enjoyed Stellar Year in Space

Yutu rolls out onto the moon. (Credit: CNSA)
Yutu rolls out onto the moon. (Credit: CNSA)

China had a highly successful year in space in 2013, sending a second crew to live aboard the Tiangong-1 space station in June and becoming only the third nation to successfully soft land a spacecraft on the moon in December. As the year ended, the Yutu rover had completed its first exploration of the lunar surface and had entered a hibernation period for a long lunar night.

With increasingly sophisticated spacecraft, a reliable stable of Long March launch vehicles, and ambitious plans for the future, China has made itself a major player in the international space arena as space agencies in the United States and Europe face budgetary pressures and Russia struggles to revive a once formidable space program.

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China Opens Up Space Program to Foreign Astronauts

The crew of Shenzhou-10 after 15 days in space. (Credit: CNSA)
The crew of Shenzhou-10 after 15 days in space. (Credit: CNSA)

China is opening up its human spaceflight program to foreign astronauts:

 

We would like to train astronauts from other countries and organizations that have such a demand, and we would be glad to provide trips to foreign astronauts,” said Yang Liwei, deputy director of China Manned Space Agency. We will also welcome foreign astronauts who have received our training to work in our future space station.”

 

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Video Report on China’s Space Program

A long CCTV report on China’s space program, including interviews with the Shenzhou 10 crew, an overview of the nation’s space station plans, a report on life at the nation’s main spaceport, and a Q&A with American lunar expert John Lewis.

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China Launches New Crew to Tiangong 1 Space Station

The Shenzhou 10 crew prior to launch. (Credit: CNSA)
The Shenzhou 10 crew prior to launch. (Credit: CNSA)

China launched three taikonauts into orbit this morning aboard the Shenzhou 10 spacecraft for the second and final human visit to the Tiangong 1 space station. The crew is set for a 15-day space mission.

Commander Nie Haisheng and crew mates Zhang Xiaoguan and Wang Yaping rocketed into orbit aboard a Long March 2F/G from Pad 921 at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center’s LC43 Launch Complex. The launch went off on schedule at 09:38 UTC.

This is China’s fifth human mission and the first since the crew of Shenzhou 9 visited the space station last June. Wang became the second Chinese woman to fly into space.

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China to Launch Next Human Mission to Space Station

shenzhou1
Shenzhou spacecraft

China is preparing for its first human spaceflight since last June:

China will launch its next manned rocket in the middle of this month, carrying three astronauts to an experimental space module, state media said on Monday, the latest stage of an ambitious plan to build a space station.

The Shenzhou 10 space ship and its rocket had already been moved to the launch area at a remote site in the Gobi desert, the official Xinhua news agency reported….

China is still far from catching up with the established space superpowers, the United States and Russia. The Tiangong 1 is a trial module, not the building block of a space station.

But this summer’s mission will be the latest show of China’s growing prowess in space and comes while budget restraints and shifting priorities have held back U.S. manned space launches.

It will be China’s fifth manned space mission since 2003 when astronaut Yang Liwei became the country’s first person in orbit.

Read the full story.

ESA, China Meet to Explore Joint Human Space Missions

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

PARIS, 8 October 2012 (ESA PR) — Wang Zhaoyao, Director General of the China Manned Space Agency, accompanied by the first Chinese female astronaut, Liu Yang, met ESA Director General Jean-Jacques Dordain at the Agency’s headquarters in Paris on 8 October.

Mr Dordain congratulated Mr Wang on the successful Shenzhou-9 mission, stating how impressed he had been when learning of the flawless automatic and manual docking with Tiangong-1.

Following earlier discussions, the two sides have agreed to continue talking about possible avenues for cooperation between ESA and the China Manned Space Agency (CMSA).

A delegation from CMSA and the Chinese Astronaut Centre will visit the European Astronaut Centre in Cologne in the near future with a view to sharing experiences in astronaut training.

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Ex-ISRO Officials Praise Chinese Human Launch, Rue Lost Opportunity


By Douglas Messier

Parabolic Arc Managing Editor

While the Chinese celebrate the launch of a three-member crew to the Tiangong-1 space station, two former chairman of India’s space agency ISRO are looking on with both admiration and regret. As China’s program has moved slowly but steadily forward, India’s plans for human space missions have slipped from around 2016 into the early to mid-2020s.

India’s top space scientists praised China’s maiden mission of manned docking of its space lab even as New Delhi’s own human space flight programme seems to have lost momentum.

“It’s a wonderful thing that has happened,” ex-Chairman of Indian Space Research Organisation, U R Rao told PTI here. “Essentially, they are making sure that they are going ahead systematically with manned mission programme”. …

He said India has not started any manned mission programme at all. “We have to have much larger and much more powerful launch vehicle,” Rao said.

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China’s Shenzhou 9 Crew Docks With Tiangong-1 Space Station

China performed its first human docking on Monday:

China’s Shenzhou 9 space capsule — which launched Saturday carrying three astronauts, including the country’s first female spaceflier — linked up automatically with the unmanned Tiangong 1 space lab just after 2 p.m. Monday Beijing time (2 a.m. ET), according to CCTV.

The only other countries to pull off an orbital docking with a manned spacecraft are the United States and then-Soviet Russia, which first did so in 1966 and 1969, respectively.

Shenzhou 9 was to dock with Tiangong 1 twice. The plan called for the first hookup to be conducted in automated mode, following the pattern set last November during an all-robotic docking between Tiangong and an unmanned Shenzhou 8 craft. At some point, the two spacecraft will separate, and the three taikonauts, as China’s astronauts are known, will perform the second docking under manual control.

Read more at MSNBC.

China Launches 3 Astronauts to Tiangong-1 Space Station

China launched the Shenzhou 9 spacecraft with three astronauts aboard atop a Long March 2F rocket on Saturday. Commander Jing Haipeng, Liu Wang and Liu Yang — the first Chinese woman in space — are headed for a two-week mission to the Tiangong-1 space station. This will be the first human crew to dock with China’s first space station, which was launched last year. The crew will dock with Tiangong-1 on Monday. This is China’s first human launch in nearly four years.

Video Report on Impending Chinese Human Space Launch

Reports indicate that the launch will take place on Saturday afternoon. The crew will spend two days to reach the Tiangong-1 space station and 10 days on board. China will send its first female astronaut into space on this flight.The space station is about half the size of the Soviet Salyut facilities launched during the 1970s.