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China launches first space lab module Tiangong-1

Discussion in 'China & Asia Pacific' started by aimarraul, Sep 29, 2011.

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  1. aimarraul

    aimarraul 2nd Lieutant FULL MEMBER

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    China launches first space lab module Tiangong-1

    English.news.cn 2011-09-29 21:43:06

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    A Long March-2FT1 carrier rocket loaded with Tiangong-1 unmanned space lab module blasts off from the launch pad at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China's Gansu Province, Sept. 29, 2011. (Xinhua/Wang Jianmin)

    BEIJING, Sept. 29 (Xinhua) -- China's first space lab module Tiangong-1 blasted off at 9:16 p.m. Beijing Time (1316 GMT) Thursday from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center located in China's northwest desert area.

    The unmanned module, carried by the Long March-2FT1 rocket, will test space docking with a spacecraft later this year, paving the way for China to operate a permanent space station around 2020 and making it the world's third country to do so.

    Commander-in-chief of China's manned space program Chang Wanquan announced the launch's success at the control center.

    Unlike previous Chinese space vehicles, Tiangong-1 has a docking facility which allows it to be connected to multiple space modules in order to assemble an experimental station in low Earth orbit.

    Tiangong-1 will orbit the Earth for about one month, awaiting the arrival of the Shenzhou-8 unmanned spacecraft. Once the two vehicles successfully rendezvous, they will conduct the first space docking at a height of 340 kilometers above Earth's surface.

    After two docking tests with the Shenzhou-8, Tiangong-1 will await Shenzhou-9, followed by Shenzhou-10, which will possibly carry a female astronaut, in the next two years, according to the plan for China's manned space program.

    If the astronaut in the Shenzhou-10 mission succeeds with the manual space docking, China will become the third nation after the United States and Russia to master the technology.

    President Hu Jintao watched the launch from the Beijing Aerospace Flight Control Center on Thursday, two days before China's National Day, witnessing the latest endeavor of China's manned space program since 1992.

    Other members of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, including Wu Bangguo, Jia Qinglin, Li Changchun, Xi Jinping, Li Keqiang and Zhou Yongkang, were also present.

    Premier Wen Jiabao and He Guoqiang, also members of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, went to the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center to watch the launch process.

    "Tiangong-1 has gone into the dark sky! We Chinese are on the way to inhabiting the vast universe," wrote Qichaoxiguanghai on Sina Weibo, China's most popular microblog service provider.

    "I heard the news of Tiangong-1's launch from the radio on a ship to Yangzhou," wrote microblogger Xingfufeiafei. "I am proud to share the pride that shakes the world. The pride of our nation is once again deep in my heart."

    With a room of 15 cubic meters for two to three astronauts to conduct research and experiments in the future, China's first space lab module is hardly the size of any palace.

    But its name Tiangong-1, or "Heavenly Palace-1," speaks of a dream home from Chinese folklore, long envisioned as a secret place where deities reside.

    Thanks to an economic boom that has continued since the end of 1970s, the Chinese government approved and began carrying out its three-phase manned space program in January 1992.

    The first phase, to send the first astronaut to space and return safely, was fulfilled by Yang Liwei in the Shenzhou-5 mission in 2003. After another two astronauts made successful extravehicular activities in the Shenzhou-7 mission in 2008, China entered the second phase of its space program: space docking.

    If the previous two steps succeed, China plans to develop and launch multiple space modules, with a goal of assembling a 60-tonne manned space station around 2020 in which Chinese astronauts will start more research projects in space.

    The success of Thursday's launch of Tiangong-1 also eased the pressure on China's space engineers following the unsuccessful lift-off in August when a Long March-2C rocket malfunctioned and failed to send an experimental satellite into orbit.

    To acquire a new and bigger rocket capable of loading a future space station's components that will be much heavier than Tiangong-1, research and development on a carrier rocket that burns more environmentally-friendly liquid-oxygen-kerosene fuels is in progress.

    Zhang Shancong, deputy chief designer of Tiangong-1, told Xinhua that the module carries special cameras which will take hyperspectral images of China's vast farmlands to detect heavy metal pollution and pesticide residue as well as plant disease.

    Moreover, scientists on the ground will also conduct experiments on photonic crystal, a new material expected to revolutionize information technology, in the low-gravity environment inside Tiangong-1 as these experiments would be extremely difficult to conduct on Earth's surface.

    "China is clearly becoming a global power and its investments in areas like technology and exploration reflect this," said Peter Singer, a senior fellow at the Washington-based Brookings Institution.

    "It is a natural result of the growth in political and economic power and is to be expected," Singer said in an interview with Xinhua conducted via email.

    "What remains at question is what kind of presence China will play on the international stage, cooperative, working with international partners, or going it alone?" Singer said.

    The scholar, however, can find an answer to his question from the words of Zhou Jianping, chief designer of China's manned space program.

    Zhou told Xinhua that China will turn its future space station into an international platform for space research and application.

    "The Chinese nation has pursued peace since ancient times," Zhou said. "China's ultimate intention with the space program is to explore space resources and make use of them for mankind's well-being."

    A space station could provide a low-gravity environment for research on geography, astronomy and bio-technology, which will bring unimaginably greater achievements than those conducted on Earth's surface, he said.

    China has expressed its strong willingness to cooperate with other countries in exploring space. So far China's Long March rocket series has successfully sent more than 20 satellites into space for the United States, Australia, Pakistan and other countries and regions.

    One Chinese scientist and five international peers have also participated in Russia's Mars-500 Program, a ground-based experiment simulating a manned expedition to Mars
     
  2. aimarraul

    aimarraul 2nd Lieutant FULL MEMBER

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  3. jack

    jack FULL MEMBER

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    Chinese Shenzhou craft launches on key space mission

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    China has taken the next step in its quest to become a major space power with the launch of the unmanned Shenzhou 8 vehicle.

    The spacecraft rode a Long March 2F rocket into orbit where it will attempt to rendezvous and dock with the Tiangong-1 lab, launched in September.

    It would be the first time China has joined two space vehicles together.

    The capability is required if the country is to carry through its plan to build a space station by about 2020.

    The Long March carrier rocket lifted away from the Jiuquan spaceport in the Gobi Desert at 05:58, Tuesday (21:58 GMT Monday). TV cameras relayed the ascent to orbit.
    Artist's impression of docking It will be a couple of days before Shenzhou 8 is in a position to attempt the docking

    Shenzhou separated from the rocket's upper-stage about nine minutes into the flight. Confirmation that its solar panels had been deployed was received a short while after.

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    It will be a couple of days before Shenzhou is in a position to attempt the docking, which will occur some 340km above the Earth.

    The vehicles will be using radar and optical sensors to compute their proximity to each other and guide their final approach and contact.

    The pair will then spend 12 days circling the globe together before moving apart and attempting a re-docking. Finally, Shenzhou 8 will detach and its return capsule will head back to Earth.

    This will allow experiments carried into orbit to be recovered for analysis. The German space agency has supplied an experimental box containing fish, plants, worms, bacteria and even human cancer cells for a series of biological studies.

    Link:BBC News - Chinese Shenzhou craft launches on key space mission
     
  4. jack

    jack FULL MEMBER

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    [​IMG]

    Tiangong-1 was launched in September on a Long March 2F rocket
    The unmanned laboratory unit was put in a 350km-high orbit
    Shenzhou 8 will will try to rendezvous and dock with Tiangong-1
    The project will test key technologies such as life-support systems
    China aims to start building a 60-tonne space station by about 2020


    Assuming the venture goes well, two manned missions (Shenzhou 9 and 10) are likely to try to make similar dockings in 2012.

    [​IMG]
    Shenzhou 8 carries experiments developed with the German space agency

    Chinese astronauts - yuhangyuans - are expected to live aboard the conjoined vehicles for up to two weeks. There is speculation in the Chinese media that one of these missions could also include the country's first female yuhangyuan.

    The 10.5m-long Tiangong-1 module was launched on 29 September and has been operating well, according to Chinese officials.

    Its orbit has been lowered slightly and the vehicle turned 180 degrees in preparation for its upcoming union with Shenzhou 8.

    Beijing sees the Tiangong and Shenzhou dockings as the next phase in its step-by-step approach to acquiring the skills of human spaceflight operations.

    It is a learning curve China hopes will eventually lead to the construction of a space station, starting at the end of the decade.

    At about 60 tonnes in mass, this future station would be considerably smaller than the 400-tonne international platform operated by the US, Russia, Europe, Canada and Japan, but its mere presence in the sky would nonetheless represent a remarkable achievement.

    [​IMG]
    Tiangong-1 was launched in September

    Concept drawings describe a core module weighing some 20-22 tonnes, flanked by two slightly smaller laboratory vessels.

    Officials say it would be supplied by freighters in exactly the same way that robotic cargo ships keep the International Space Station (ISS) today stocked with fuel, food, water, air, and spare parts.

    China is investing billions of dollars in its space programme. It has a strong space science effort under way, with two orbiting satellites having already been launched to the Moon and a third mission expected to put a rover on the lunar surface.

    Next week should see its first Mars orbiter - Yinghuo-1 - begin its journey to the Red Planet.

    The Asian country is also deploying its own satellite-navigation system known as BeiDou-Compass.

    Bigger rockets are coming, too. The Long March 5 will be capable of putting more than 20 tonnes in a low-Earth orbit. This lifting muscle, again, will be necessary for the construction of a space station.
     
  5. Manmohan Yadav

    Manmohan Yadav Brigadier STAR MEMBER

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    Congrats to China
     
  6. ManuSankar

    ManuSankar Major SENIOR MEMBER

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    Congratulations China..
     
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