.COM

Launchdate links page        UCT/Zulu time      Home


Chinese Space Program page

Updated: Thursday July 26, 2012

China/Argentina Joint Space Installation.
China's Space Program Accelerates

China targets 2013 for launch of lunar landing mission
BY STEPHEN CLARK
SPACEFLIGHT NOW.com

-----------------------------------------------------
Dec. 17, 2010   Long March 3ABeidou
Launch time: TBD
Launch site:
Xichang Satellite Launch Center.
, China

----------------------------------------------------- Is Helium 3 Exploitation China's Hidden Lunar Agenda? http://www.dailygalaxy.com/my_weblog/2008/07/is-helium-3-exp.html   ----------------------------------------------------- Shenzhou 5 Landing Successful ! October 15, 2003
(6:23am Beijing Time) 
http://www.geocities.com/CapeCanaveral/Launchpad/1921/   -----------------------------------------------------
China's Anti-Satellite Weapons and American National Security -----------------------------------------------------   China's Space Program Driven by Military Ambitions By Leonard David posted: 07:00 am ET 13 March 2002 China is readying an unpiloted Shenzhou 3 spaceship for flight a key step toward claiming a prestigious position in the heavens - becoming the third nation after Russia and the United States to attain an independent ability to launch humans into Earth orbit.   http://www.space.com/news/china_space_020313.html   -----------------------------------------------------   The race into space By Robert S. Walker Are the Chinese serious about human space flight? Most definitely. And they are interested in doing more than simply going to low Earth orbit.   http://www.washtimes.com/op-ed/20030528-092308-4284r.htm   -----------------------------------------------------    AIR WAR COLLEGE AIR UNIVERSITY CHINA ’S SPACE PROGRAM AND ITS IMPLICATIONS FOR THE UNITED STATES by J.Barry Patterson Lt Col,USAF A RESEARCH REPORT SUBMITTED TO THE FACULTY IN FULFILLMENT OF THE CURRICULUM REQUIREMENT Advisor:Dr.Joan Johnson-Freese MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE,ALABAMA APRIL 19,1995  https://research.maxwell.af.mil/papers/ay1995/awc/patterjb.pdf    -----------------------------------------------------   Washington Times October 20, 2003  China space program shows careful development    By Martin Sieff UNITED PRESS INTERNATIONAL http://washingtontimes.com/world/20031019-112013-5419r.htm   -----------------------------------------------------   Glenn Mahone/Bob Jacobs Headquarters, Washington (Phone: 202/358-1898/1600))   October 14, 2003 RELEASE : 03-333 NASA Administrator Marks China's Space Milestone http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2003/oct/HQ_03333_china.html     Long March 2C  Very good overview of the Long March series  http://www.fas.org/spp/guide/china/launch/lm2c/2C_Chapter1.htm   Rocsat2 http://www.skyrocket.de/space/index_frame. htm?http://www.skyrocket.de/space/doc_sdat/rocsat-2.htm -------------------------------------------------------
CHINESE LAUNCHES IN 2011, AT LEAST 18. SOURCE: CLAUDE LEFLEUR'S 2011 WORLDWIDE LAUNCHES Beidou 12 (IGSO 3) Spacecraft: Beidou DW8 (“Eight orbiter”) IGSO stands for the 4th Inclined Geo Synchronous Orbit satellite. Chronologies: 2011 payload #17 ; 2011-13A ; 7,000th spacecraft. Type: Navigation Families: Ranks: Sponsor: Chinese Defense Ministry Launch: 9 April 2011 at 20h47 UT, from Xichang Satellite Launch Center, by a Chang Zheng 3A. Orbit: Initial: 192 km x 34,892 km x 55.1° transfer orbit 35,694 km x 35,870 km x 55.3° (inclined geosynchronous orbit) Mission: This eighth operational Beidou or Compass navigation satellite join seven other satellites already in orbit to form a network which will eventually consist of more than 30 satellites. According to Chinese sources, the launching of the satellite marks the establishment of a basic system for the navigation and positioning network. It is a second-generation Beidou satellite (Beidou-2 series). Thie launch marks the first space launch in China this year. China plans to launch at least 20 satellites and spaceships, including the Tiangong-1 space module and Shenzhou VIII spaceship during the latter half of this year for China's first unmanned rendezvous and docking, and four Beidou satellites. Source: Jonathan Space Report No. 640 ; Spacewarn No. 690 ; NSSDC 2011-013A ; Spaceflight Now's 11 Apr 11 ; China Daily's 10 Apr 11 & 11 Apr 11 ; China Daily's8 Apr 11, 9 Apr 11, 10 Apr 11, 11 Apr 11 ; ---------------------------------------------------------------- Zhongxing 10 / Chinasat 10 Spacecraft: Chronologies: 2011 payload #36 ; 2011-26A ; 7,019th spacecraft. Type: Communications Families: Ranks: Sponsor: China (China Academy of Space Technology) Launch: 20 June 2011 at 16h13 UT, from Xichang Satellite Launch Center, by a Chang Zheng 3BE. Orbit: Geostationary at 110.5° East longitude. Mission: Zhongxing 10 is a 5.1-ton communicatons satellite which carries C-band and Ku-band transponders to provide broadcasting, data transmission, digital broadband multimedia system and media streaming services across China and the Asia-Pacific region. It has a 15-year service life and will replace the Chinasat 5B satellite launched in 1998. The craft is also known as Xinnuo-5 (Sinosat-5), following the merger of the Sinosat and ChinaSat organizations. Source: Jonathan Space Report No. 643 ; Spacewarn No. 692 ; NSSDC 2011-026A ; Spaceflight Now's 20 Jun 11 ; China Daily's19 Jun 11, 21 Jun 11 ; ----------------------------------------------- SJ-11-03 / Shi Jian 11-03 Spacecraft: Shi Jian 11 03 means Practice-11 Satellite 3. Chronologies: 2011 payload #40 ; 2011-30A ; 7,023rd spacecraft. Type: Technology? (Missile Early Warning?) Families: Ranks: Sponsor: China Launch: 6 July 2011 at 4h28 UT, from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, by a Chang Zheng 2C. Orbit: 690 km x 703 km x 98.2° Mission: It is thought that the SJ-11 satellites are followons to the Shiyan Weixing 2 satellite which tested infrared sensors. It has further been speculated that the vehicles may be missile early warning satellites. According to Chinese press: “The orbiter, developed by China Spacesat Co. Ltd under China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, will be used to conduct space scientific experiments.” Source: Jonathan Space Report No. 644 ; NSSDC 2011-030A ; Spaceflight Now's ; China Daily's 6 Jul 11, 7 Jul 11, 13 Jul 11 ; ---------------------------------------------------- TL 1-02 / TianLian 1-02 Spacecraft: Chronologies: 2011 payload #42 ; 2011-32A ; 7,025th spacecraft. Type: Communications (Data Relay) Families: Ranks: Sponsor: China Launch: 11 July 2011 at 15h41 UT, from Xichang Satellite Launch Center, by a Chang Zheng 3C. Orbit: Geostarionary Mission: Tianlian 1-02 is a data relay satellite which join the Tianlian 1 satellite launched in April 2008 in monitoring flights of China's manned Shenzhou capsule and China's future space station. Source: Jonathan Space Report No. 644 ; NSSDC 2011-032A ; Spaceflight Now's 11 Jul 11 ; China Daily's10 Jul 11, 12 Jul 11 ; -------------------------------------------------------------- Beidou 13 (IGSO 4) Spacecraft: Beidou DW9 (“Ninth orbiter”), Beidou 2-14 IGSO stands for the 4th Inclined Geo Synchronous Orbit satellite. Chronologies: 2011 payload #55 ; 2011-38A ; 7,038th spacecraft. Type: Navigation Families: Ranks: Sponsor: China Launch: 26 July 2011 at 21h44 UT, from Xichang Satellite Launch Center, by a Chang Zheng 3A. Orbit: Inclined geostationary orbit at 55.2° Mission: Beidou DW9 (Beidou 2-I4) is a navigation satellite that is part of China's Navigation Satellite System (CNSS). This constellation, which will eventually consist of 35 spacecraft, is designed to provide precise navigation, timing and messaging services. It will initially be used to provide high-accuracy positioning services for users; the civilian service has an accuracy of 10 metres in position, the military and authorized user's service, provide higher accuracies. Source: Jonathan Space Report No. 645 ; NSSDC 2011-038A ; Spaceflight Now's 26 Jul 11 ; China Daily's 25 Jul 11, 26 Jul 11, 27 Jul 11 ; ----------------------------------------------------------------- SJ-11-02 / Shi Jiun 11-02 Spacecraft: Shi Jian 11 02 means Practice-11 Satellite 2. Chronologies: 2011 payload #56 ; 2011-39A ; 7,039th spacecraft. Type: Technology? (Missile Early Warning?) Families: Ranks: Sponsor: China Launch: 29 July 2011 at 7h42 UT, from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, by a Chang Zheng 2C. Orbit: 689 km x 704 km x 98.1° Mission: It is thought that the SJ-11 satellites are followons to the Shiyan Weixing 2 satellite which tested infrared sensors. It has further been speculated that the vehicles may be missile early warning satellites. According to Chinese press: “The orbiter belongs to the country's Shijian satellite family. Developed by China Space Co, Ltd. under the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, it will be used to conduct scientific experiments in space.” Source: Jonathan Space Report No. 645 ; NSSDC 2011-039A ; Spaceflight Now's ; China Daily's 29 Jul 11, 29 Jul 11 ; ------------------------------------------------------- Haiyang 2 Spacecraft: Haiyang means ocean. Chronologies: 2011 payload #62 ; 2011-43A ; 7,045th spacecraft. Type: Earth Observation (Ocean) Families: Ranks: Sponsor: China Launch: 15 August 2011 at 22h57 UT, from Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center's LC-2, by a Chang Zheng 4B. Orbit: Circular, 963 km sun-synchronous orbit. Mission: Haiyang 2 is an oceanographic satellite which carries a microwave radiometer, a radar altimeter and a radar scatterometer to monitor ocean conditions. It is is part of a system of ocean dynamic environment satellites, ocean surveillance satellites, and ocean color remote sensing satellites. They use infrared remote sensing technology to monitor ocean pollution and topography in shallow waters. It is used to monitor ocean wind fields, sea levels and temperatures, waves, currents, tides, and storms in order to provide disaster and weather forecasting information. This launch makes seven Chinese orbital flights in two months. Source: Jonathan Space Report No. 645 ; NSSDC 2011-043A ; Spaceflight Now's 15 Aug 11 ; China Daily's14 Aug 11, 16 Aug 11, 17 Aug 11 ; ------------------------------------------------------- SJ-11-04 / Shi Jiun 11-04 Spacecraft: Shi Jian 11 04 means Practice-11 Satellite 4. Chronologies: 2011 payload #72 ; 2011 6th failure ; 7,055th spacecraft. Type: Technology? (Missile Early Warning?) Families: Ranks: Sponsor: Chinese Defense Ministry Launch: 18 August 2011 at 9h28 UT, from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, by a Chang Zheng 2C. Orbit: n/a Mission: The fourth satellite in China's SJ-11 system, speculated by some analysts to be an early warning constellation, failed to reach orbit when the ignition the rocket's vernier engine suffered a mechanical failure. Source: Jonathan Space Report No. 646 ; Spaceflight Now's 18 Aug 11, 3 Sep 11 ; China Daily's18 Aug 11, 19 Aug 11, 20 Aug 11, 24 Aug 11 ; ------------------------------------------------------ Zhongxing 1A / Chinasat 1A Spacecraft: Chronologies: 2011 payload #76 ; 2011-47A ; 7,059th spacecraft. Type: Communications Families: Ranks: Sponsor: Chinese Defense Ministry Launch: 18 Septembre 2011 at 16h33 UT, from Xichang Satellite Launch Center, by a Chang Zheng. Orbit: Geostarionary Mission: Chinasat 1A is a 5.2-ton military communications satellite. According to Chinese press, “Zhongxing-1A was designed and manufactured by the China Academy of Space Technology under the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation. The satellite provides high-quality voice communication, broadcast and data transmission services for users across China.” Source: Jonathan Space Report No. 647 ; NSSDC 2011-047A ; Spaceflight Now's 18 Sep 11 ; China Daily's19 Sep 11 ; ------------------------------------------------- Tiangong 1 Spacecraft: Tiangong means heavenly palace. Chronologies: 2011 payload #83 ; 2011-53A ; 7,066th spacecraft. Type: Space Station (test module) Families: Ranks: Sponsor: China Launch: 29 September 2011 at 13h16 UT, from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, by a Chang Zheng 2FT1. Orbit: Initial: 198 km x 332 km x 42.8° 336 km x 353 km x 42.8° Mission: Tiangong 1 is a 8.5-ton space station module which measured 12 metres long with a diameter of 3.3 metres. It is the first Chinese space laboratory module launched to demonstrate the vital docking technology required for a future space station. It was mainly used to carry out rendezvous and docking tests and to accumulate the experience for the construction, management and operation of a space station. The module is composed of two cylindrical sections with a docking port on its front-end. Tiangong 1 spacecraft is expected to stay in orbit for two years and rendezvous and dock with three different Shenzhou spaceships. At least one of them will be manned and the astronauts of that launch will stay on-board for a maximum of two weeks. First docking tests were performed in November 2011 with Shenzhou VIII. China's goal is to build a space station by 2020. Source: Jonathan Space Report No. 648 ; NSSDC 2011-053A ; Spaceflight Now's 12 May 11, 4 Jul 11, 19 Aug 11, 25 Sep 11, 29 Sep 11, ; China Daily's 29 Apr 11, 30 Jun 11, 19 Aug 11, 1 Sep 11, 2 Sep 11, 20 Sep 11, 21 Sep 11, 26 Sep 11, 26 Sep 11, 27 Sep 11, 27 Sep 11, 28 Sep 11, 28 Sep 11, 28 Sep 11; 29 Sep 11, 29 Sep 11, 29 Sep 11, 30 Sep 11, 30 Sep 11, 7 Oct 11 ; See also Shenzhou VIII below ; ----------------------------------------------------- Shenzhou VIII Spacecraft: Chronologies: 2011 payload #103 ; 2011-63A ; 7,086th spacecraft. Type: Piloted Spaceflight (unmanned) Families: Ranks: Sponsor: China Recovery of the Shenzhou VIII capsule. Launch: 31 October 2011 at 21h58 UT, from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, by a Chang Zheng 2F. Orbit: Initial: 261 km x 314 km x 42.8° At docking: 328 km x 338 km Recovery: 17 November 2011 at 11h32 UT. Mission: Shenzhou VIII is a 8.08-ton piloted spaceship (launched wihout a crew). During its three-week mission, it docked twice with the unmanned space module Tiangong 1. Its capsule carries onboard several experiments, 17 Chinese and German research programs in the field of biomedicine participate, including plants, animals and human cells of the immune and nervous system. First docking occured on 2 November 2011 at 17h28 UT, and both crafst, approximately 20 metres long, stayed docked for 12 days. The Shenzhou undocked on 14 November at 11hh27 UT, reyreated to 140 metres and redocked at 11h53 UT. On 16 November, it undocked from Tiangong 1 at 10h30 UT and proceed to return to Earth. Its descent module landed on 17 November 2011 at 11h32 UT. (its orbital module remains in orbit.) Source: Jonathan Space Report No. 650 & 651 ; NSSDC 2011-063A ; Spaceflight Now's 31 Oct 11, 2 Nov 11, 2 Nov 11, 13 Nov 11, 17 Nov 11, 19 Nov 11 ; China Daily's 21 Oct 11, 27 Oct 11, 30 Oct 11, 31 Oct 11, 31 Oct 11, 31 Oct 11, 31 Oct 11, 1 Nov 11, 1 Nov 11, 2 Nov 11, 2 Nov 11, 3 Nov 11, 3 Nov 11, 3 Nov 11, 3 Nov 11, 4 Nov 11, 15 Nov 11, 13 Nov 11, 14 Nov 11, 16 Nov 11, 16 Nov 11, 17 Nov 11, 17 Nov 11, 18 Nov 11, 19 Nov 11 ; ----------------------------------------------------------- Yinghuo 1 Spacecraft: Chronologies: 2011 payload #108 ; 2011-65A (9th failure) ; 7,091st spacecraft. Type: Planetary Probe (Mars) Families: Ranks: Sponsor: China Launch: 8 November 2011 at 20h16 UT, from Baykonur Cosmodrome's LC-45, by a Zenit-2SB. Orbit: Initial: 206 km x 341 km x 51.4° (Failed to be launched toward a Mars-bound trajectory.) Mission: Yinghuo-1 is a 115-kg Martian probe, the frist Chinese Martian probe. Designed by Shanghai Institute of Satellite Engineering, it would had orbited Mars more than 120 times durang one year, to explore the Martian environment and sent back the first Mars images taken by a Chinese satellite. Unfortunatly, the probe get stuck in Earth orbit (see Fobos-Grunt). Source: Jonathan Space Report No. 650 ; NSSDC YINGHUO-1 ; Spaceflight Now's ; China Daily's 21 Feb 11, 2 Mar 11, 21 Oct 11, 9 Nov 11, 9 Nov 11, 9 Nov 11, 12 Nov 11 ; --------------------------------------------- YW-12 / Yaogan Weixing 12 Spacecraft: Chronologies: 2011 payload #109 ; 2011-66B ; 7,092nd spacecraft. Type: Surveillance Families: Ranks: Sponsor: Chinese Defense Ministry Launch: 9 November 2011 at 3h21 UT, from Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center, by a Chang Zheng 4B. Orbit: 480 km x 490 km x 97.4° Mission: The Yaogan Weixing satellites are Earth observing satellites, at least some of which probably have a military role. According to Chinese press, “the satellite will be used to conduct scientific experiments, carry out surveys on land resources, estimate crop yield and help with natural disaster-reduction and prevention.” Source: Jonathan Space Report No. 650 ; NSSDC 2011-066B ; Spaceflight Now's 9 Nov 11 ; China Daily's 9 Nov 11 ; ------------------------------------------------- Tianxun 1 Spacecraft: Chronologies: 2011 payload #110 ; 2011-66A ; 7,093rd spacecraft. Type: Technology Families: Ranks: Sponsor: China (Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics) Launch: 9 November 2011 at 3h21 UT, from Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center, by a Chang Zheng 4B. Orbit: 480 km x 490 km x 97.4° Mission: Tianxun-1 is a 58-kg technology satellite which carries a small Earth observing CCD camera. The satellite “will be used to carry out technological verification tests”, according to Chinese press. Source: Jonathan Space Report No. 650 ; NSSDC 2011-066A ; Spaceflight Now's ; China Daily's 9 Nov 11 ; ---------------------------------------------------------- SW-4 / Shiyan Weixing 4 Spacecraft: Shiyan weixing 4 means Experimental Satellite 4. Chronologies: 2011 payload #112 ; 2011-68B ; 7,095th spacecraft. Type: Technology? Families: Ranks: Sponsor: China Launch: 20 November 2011 at 0h15 UT, from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, by a Chang Zheng 2D. Orbit: 783 km x 804 km x 98.5° Mission: According to Chinese press, the Shiyan Satellite 4 will be used for space technology experiments and environmental observation. Source: Jonathan Space Report No. 651 ; NSSDC 2011-068B; Spaceflight Now's 19 Nov 11 ; China Daily's20 Nov 11 ; ---------------------------------------------------- Chuanxin 1-03 Spacecraft: Chronologies: 2011 payload #113 ; 2011-68A ; 7,096th spacecraft. Type: Technology (Data Relay) Families: Ranks: Sponsor: China Launch: 20 November 2011 at 0h15 UT, from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, by a Chang Zheng 2D. Orbit: 783 km x 804 km x 98.5° Mission: According to Chinese press, the Chuangxin 1-03 will be used to collect and relay hydrological, meteorological, and electric power data as well as data for disaster relief. Source: Jonathan Space Report No. 651 ; NSSDC2011-068A ; Spaceflight Now's 19 Nov 11 ; China Daily's20 Nov 11 ; -------------------------------------------------------------- YW-13 / Yaogan 13 Spacecraft: Chronologies: 2011 payload #117 ; 2011-72A ; 7,100th spacecraft. Type: Surveillance Families: Ranks: Sponsor: Chinese Defense Ministry Launch: 30 Novemer 2011 at 18h50 UT, from Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center, by a Chang Zheng 2C. Orbit: 505 km x 510 km x 97.1° Mission: The Yaogan Weixing-13 is an unannounced mission to collect imagery of strategic sites around the world. It is probably operating in conjunction with the YW-4 radar satellite launched in 2008 . According to Chinese sources, the satellite is “a new remote sensing satellite”. The Yaogan series of satellites gather optical and radar reconnaissance imagery for Chinese military and intelligence agencies. Yaogan 13 may carry a synthetic aperture radar sensor to peer through clouds for all-weather, night-and-day image collection. Source: Jonathan Space Report No. 651 ; NSSDC2011-072A ; Spaceflight Now's 29 Nov 11 ; China Daily's 30 Nov 11 ; --------------------------------------------------------- Beidou 14 (IGSO 5) Spacecraft: Beidou DW10 (“Tenth orbiter”) IGSO stands for the 4th Inclined Geo Synchronous Orbit satellite. Chronologies: 2011 payload #118 ; 2011-73A ; 7,101st spacecraft. Type: Navigation Families: Ranks: Sponsor: Chinese Defense Ministry Launch: 1 December 2011 at 21h07 UT, from Xichang Satellite Launch Center, by a Chang Zheng 3A. Orbit: Inclined geostationary orbit at 55.2° Mission: Beidou DW10 is a navigation satellite that is part of China's Navigation Satellite System (CNSS). This “(North Star Navigation Satellite No. 10 10 is also known as IGSO 5, the fifth in the series to go to inclined geosynchronous orbit. According to Chinese press, the basic structure of the Beidou system has now been established. The system will provide test-run services of positioning, navigation and time for China and the neighboring areas before the end of this year, according to the authorities. More satellites will be launched before the end of 2012 for the Beidou network, and its coverage area will be expanded with upgraded services. The global satellite positioning and f Space Technology, it is the country's first such orbiter that can acquire high-resolution data through remote-sensing, marking a key technological leap forward. According to the center, the satellite can conduct land resources surveys, reduce natural disasters, aid agriculture development and manage water resources.” (Photos: Ziyuan I-02C carrier rocket on its launching pad at the Xichang Taiyuan Launch Center.) Source: Jonathan Space Report No. 651 ; NSSDC 2011-0 ; Spaceflight Now's ; China Daily's 22 Dec 11 ; --------------------------------------------------------- China's Space Program Accelerates by Morris Jones for SpaceDaily Sydney, Australia (SPX) Jun 29, 2012 From Spacedaily.com The video grab of the Shenzhou IX re-entry capsule landing in the central part of the Inner Mongolia autonomous region Friday morning. Source: XNA The success of the first crewed expedition to China's first space laboratory represents a major step forward for China's space program. China has made steady advances in spaceflight since its first astronaut was launched in 2003, but its space program has often been downplayed by international observers. It was easy to point out the gap of several decades between China's first astronaut launch and those of Russia and the USA. Gaps of years between successive human space missions further added to the perception that China was moving almost too slowly to notice. The launch of the Tiangong 1 module and its successful operations with astronauts from the Shenzhou 9 spacecraft is more than just another steady step forward. It represents a substantial increase in China's space capabilities, which are growing far more quickly than even some aerospace analysts are prepared to admit. Prior sending astronauts to Tiangong, China released few details on the capabilities of this module, dubbed a "space laboratory" by the Chinese. Analysis of video footage and information of crew activities released by the Chinese has surprised us. As this writer has previously reported, Tiangong 1 is far more than a simple laboratory. It is really China's first space station. It's small and not very capable, but China has already reached this major level of development in its space program. Another crew will be launched to Tiangong 1 next year. Later this decade, China will launch the Tiangong 2 "space laboratory", which will feature more advanced life-support systems than its predecessor. Afterwards, we will see Tiangong 3, expected to be even more sophisticated. This third "laboratory" is expected to feature multiple docking ports and could support the arrival of cargo-carrying spacecraft, in addition to crew vehicles like Shenzhou. Thus, China will have a small modular space complex operating within a decade! The final stage in this development will be the launch of a large, modular space station that will probably be occupied on a semi-permanent basis. This will feature three cylindrical segments of comparable size to those used to construct the International Space Station. The Chinese space station will not approach the size or complexity of the ISS, but it will be entirely built, launched and controlled by China. Despite the heavy investment made by the USA, no single nation really dominates operations on board the International Space Station. China is still behind the USA and Russia in many aspects of spaceflight. It lacks America's high technology and experience. But it can still operate a robust and ambitious space program without matching this engineering finesse. Astronauts flew to the Moon with computers that had less power than most telephones today. China's expertise in electronics and engineering outstrips anything NASA could use in the 1960s. Most space technology has been gradually improved over half a century of spaceflight, but the basic designs of rockets and spacecraft have remained highly consistent for decades. China is also taking advantage of "leapfrogging", by using the world's existing knowledge of spaceflight to its advantage. Its first astronaut-carrying spacecraft was not a simple orbital capsule but a large, sophisticated vehicle. China is also developing a new near-equatorial launch site on Hainan Island to support its new fleet of modular, heavy-lift launch vehicles. The first launch is expected in 2014. In addition to human spaceflight, China has already sent two spacecraft to orbit the Moon, and has sent its latest Moon probe on an extended mission into deep space. It plans to land rovers on the Moon and retrieve samples. Robot missions to Mars and other targets in the solar system are also proposed. China claims to have spent around $6 billion on its human spaceflight program. Analysts have learned to be wary of any official spending figures from China, especially with regard to its military budget. There is probably a fair amount of latitude in this claim, when the cost of labour and services from state-run enterprises features so prominently in these calculations. But one broad conclusion remains undeniable. China is running an advanced space program on a very modest budget. If its claims are believable, the human spaceflight program is operating on a similar amount to the funding America has wasted on aborted (and sometimes abortive) space projects in the same timeframe. That's another reason to take notice. China's economy is expected to outstrip America's in the near future. If it elects to spend more money on spaceflight, it will achieve far more than NASA can for the same level of investment. NASA is regularly flailed for its lack of fiscal discipline. China is certainly beating the USA on this front! The Chinese have also developed a clear and coherent strategy for their space program in the years ahead. They made a plan, and they are sticking to their plan. Right now, nobody really knows what America's long-term future in spaceflight will be. There is no clear agenda. China is also investing in talent, grooming hundreds of young engineers to steer its program in the long- term. In America, decades of a nasty boom-then-bust cycle in spaceflight have caused talent to be lost, and deterred others from considering careers in aerospace. China is also building an autonomous and sustainable space program. It controls its own rockets, satellites, crewed spacecraft and space laboratories. Although China forges and gains from international partnerships, it avoids over-dependence on other countries for critical services. Consider the situation in America: The largest investor in the International Space Station cannot launch astronauts there, and it is not clear when it will recover the ability to do this. China's space program is not only moving fast. It is accelerating. The Chinese probably understood that the Tiangong 1 module would surprise outsiders with its capabilities, which could explain why they downplayed its true nature for so long. If such basic details are concealed until the last minute, we may reasonably speculate that other plans and potential advances are also being kept quiet to outsiders. More ambitious plans than simply constructing an advanced space station are probably brewing for the long term. Capability gaps between China's program and those of other major spacefaring nations are closing more rapidly than we expected. The world should take notice. Dr Morris Jones is an Australian space analyst and writer. Email morrisjonesNOSPAMhotmail.com. Replace NOSPAM with @ to send email. Dr Jones will answer media inquiries. Related Links China National Space Administration The Chinese Space Program - News, Policy and Technology China News from SinoDaily.com
 
 

Chinese Launch sites:
Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre (Base 20)
Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center
Xichang Satellite Launch Center.

 

Home

 

 

 

  © www.launchdate.com