Monday, 17 October 2016

China launches Manned Spacecraft Shenzhou-11

Update 10 Nov 2016: President Xi talks with astronauts in space
Combination photo taken on Nov. 9, 2016 shows Chinese President Xi Jinping (L) talks with the two astronauts, Jing Haipeng and Chen Dong, in the space lab Tiangong-2, at the command center of China's manned space program in Beijing, capital of China. (Photo: Xinhua/Ju Peng/Li Tao)

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday talked with the two astronauts in the space lab Tiangong-2, at the command center of China's manned space program in Beijing.

The two astronauts, Jing Haipeng and Chen Dong, embarked on their 33-day journey, the longest mission in the country's manned space program to date, onboard the Shenzhou-11 spacecraft on Oct. 17. They entered Tiangong-2 on Oct. 19.

Xi expressed his sincere greetings to the two astronauts on behalf of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, the State Council, the Central Military Commission, and people of all ethnic groups in the country.


China's Shenzhou-11 manned spacecraft successfully docks with orbiting Tiangong-2 space lab
China's manned Shenzhou 11 spacecraft has successfully docked with its space lab

The manned spacecraft launched by China on Monday (17 October) morning from the Gobi desert has successfully completed its docking with the orbiting Tiangong-2 space lab early on Wednesday, 19 October. The two astronauts on board the Shenzhou-11 monitored and reported the automated docking operation.

The Beijing Aerospace Control Center (BACC) said the spacecraft began to approach the Tiangong-2 space lab automatically at 1.11am Beijing time on Wednesday (6.11pm BST on Tuesday) and made contact with the space lab at 3.24am. The spacecraft docked at 3.31am, the centre added.

Sun Jun, deputy chief engineer of BACC, told China's official news agency Xinhua that the mission required a higher precision for the orbit prediction and automated docking calculation, compared to previous docking missions.


Shenzhou 11 glides to orbital link-up with Chinese space lab
The Tiangong 2 space lab is pictured in this video frame from a camera aboard Shenzhou 11. The two spacecraft linked up on a night pass in orbit. Credit: CCTV

Two days after blasting off on a Long March rocket, a Shenzhou spaceship carrying two Chinese astronauts linked up with China’s Tiangong 2 space lab nearly 250 miles above Earth Tuesday to begin a one-month stay inside the mini-station.

Astronauts Jing Haipeng and Chen Dong were strapped into their seats for the automated docking Tuesday, and the crew open hatches leading into the Tiangong 2 module within a few hours of arriving.

Following cues from a suite of rendezvous sensors mounted on the forward end of the craft, Shenzhou 11’s guidance computer steered the capsule toward the docking port on Tiangong 2 and made contact around 1924 GMT (3:24 p.m. EDT) during a nighttime orbital pass.


Key events during Shenzhou 11’s ascent to orbit
T-0:00:01: Ignition
T-0:00:00: Liftoff
T+0:00:12: Pitch and roll program
T+0:02:35: Escape tower jettison
T+0:02:35: Booster separation
T+0:02:40: First stage separation
T+0:03:30: Fairing separation
T+0:08:45: Shenzhou 11 separation

It will take less than 10 minutes for a Long March 2F rocket to send two astronauts inside the Shenzhou 11 space capsule on course toward a docking with China’s Tiangong 2 space lab.

The 191-foot-tall (58-meter) rocket is scheduled to blast off from the Jiuquan space center in northwestern China’s Inner Mongolia territory at 2330 GMT (7:30 p.m. EDT), or around sunrise Monday at the launch site.

Astronauts Jing Haipeng and Chen Dong will be aboard the Shenzhou 11 spaceship, beginning a 33-day mission in orbit.

related: Live coverage: Two astronauts head for Chinese mini-station

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China’s latest space mission is the country’s most ambitious yet
China launched the Shenzhou-11 spacecraft, also known as “Heavenly Vessel-11,” into space around 7:30 am (link in Chinese) Beijing time on Oct.17 from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center

It is China’s sixth manned space mission and the country’s latest bid to become a new space superpower— after the International Space Station’s current agreements expire in 2024, Beijing hopes China may be the only country with a space station, state media reports (link in Chinese).

China is scheduled to launch 20 (link in Chinese) space missions throughout all of 2016, and already put the world’s first quantum satellite into orbit in August and launched the Tiangong-2 space lab in September.

Today’s launch sends two Chinese astronauts to dock at the Tiangong-2 space lab, also known as “Heavenly Palace.” Jing Haipeng, 50, and 38-year-old Chen Dong are set to spend the 30 days in the lab, doing medical and space experiments as well as serving as special correspondents for China’s state media Xinhua News.

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LONGEST CREWED SPACE MISSION YET

Two Chinese astronauts began the country’s longest crewed space mission yet yesterday, blasting off on a spacecraft for a 30-day stay on an experimental space station as China steadfastly navigates its way to becoming a space superpower.

Ahead of the launch, one astronaut shouted: “We are ready! Please give instructions!” in front of dozens of people dressed in colorful dress representing China’s ethnic minorities, in footage shown prominently on Chinese TV. The commander-in-chief of the manned space program, Gen. Zhang Youxia, replied: “Proceed!” followed by blaring marching music as the astronauts boarded a bus to take them to the launch pad.

China, Russia and the United States are the only countries that have independently launched humans into space, and while the others have more experience in manned space travel, China’s military-backed program has made methodical progress in comparatively short time. The launch is China’s sixth manned mission, the previous longest being about two weeks.

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All you need to know about Beijing's longest manned space mission
On Monday China launched its longest manned space mission, sending two astronauts into orbit to spend a month aboard a space laboratory that is part of a broader plan to have a permanent manned space station in service around 2022

The Shenzhou 11 blasted off on a Long March rocket at 7:30 am (2330 GMT) from the remote launch site in Jiuquan, in the Gobi desert, in images carried live on state television.

Astronauts Jing Haipeng and Chen Dong will take two days to reach the Tiangong-2 space lab, or "Heavenly Palace-2", which was launched in September. It will be the longest stay in space by Chinese astronauts, state media reported.

They will remain on board for 30 days to conduct tests on spacecraft-related technologies and scientific and engineering experiments, Xinhua said.

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Watch Shenzhou-11 launch; astronauts headed for China’s longest space mission

Since October 2003, China has completed five manned space flight missions — the last one took place in 2013 and lasted 15 days.

The Tiangong-2, and its predecessor Tiangong-1, are prototypes for China’s ultimate goal — a permanent 20-ton space station, which is expected to be sent into orbit in 2022.

China aims to send its space station into orbit two years before the International Space Station (ISS) retires in 2024, according to state news agency Xinhua.

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China Plans to Launch Manned Spacecraft Shenzhou-11 on Monday
The Long March 2F carrier rocket is carried vertically to launch tower on September 9, 2016 in Jiuquan, Gansu Province of China. Source: VCG vi Getty Images

China is preparing to launch a manned spacecraft on Monday, marking a crucial step toward the country’s ambition to build and operate its first space station by 2020. The spacecraft is scheduled to blast off on a Long March-2F carrier rocket at 7.30 a.m. Beijing time from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in western Gansu province, Wu Ping, deputy director of China Manned Space Agency, told reporters Sunday. It will be Beijing’s third space-lab mission this year.

The world’s second-largest economy has spent billions in the past decade to compete in a space race with the U.S. and Russia, as well as Asian rivals India and Japan, with plans to send an astronaut to the moon by about 2025 and to land an unmanned vehicle on Mars.

Astronauts Jing Haipeng and Chen Dong will dock with orbiting space lab Tiangong-2 within two days. They will stay 30 days in the space lab, which was launched last month. In 2003, China became the third nation to send a man into space and successfully completed its first docking mission with an orbiting space lab in 2011.

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Jing Haipeng, Chen Dong to carry out China's Shenzhou-11 mission
Chinese astronauts Jing Haipeng (L) and Chen Dong meet the media at a press conference at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China, Oct. 16, 2016. The two male astronauts will carry out the Shenzhou-11 mission. The Shenzhou-11 manned spacecraft will be launched at 7:30 a.m. Oct. 17, 2016 Beijing Time (2330 GMT Oct. 16). (Xinhua/Li Gang)

Chinese astronauts Jing Haipeng and Chen Dong will carry out the Shenzhou-11 mission, a spokesperson said Sunday. The 50-year-old Jing will be commander of the mission, Wu Ping, deputy director of China's manned space engineering office, told a press conference.

The two male astronauts will board the Shenzhou-11 spacecraft early Monday at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China, Wu said.

The spacecraft will dock with orbiting space lab Tiangong-2 within two days and the astronauts will stay in the space lab for 30 days before returning to Earth, the spokesperson said. It will be Jing's third spaceflight following his Shenzhou-7 mission in 2008 and Shenzhou-9 mission in 2012.


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China to launch manned spacecraft: Xinhua
© AFP/File | China's Tiangong 2 space lab is launched on a Long March-2F rocket from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the Gobi Desert in September

China will launch a manned space mission on Monday, official media said, as the Asian giant works towards setting up its own space station.

Chinese astronauts Jing Haipeng and Chen Dong will be on board the Shenzhou-11 spacecraft as it blasts off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the Gobi desert, the official Xinhua news agency reported Sunday.

They will arrive at China's orbiting space lab Tiangong-2 within two days and stay for 30 more before returning to earth, according to the report. Jing, a 50-year-old astronaut who has already been to space twice, will command the mission to the lab, which was launched in September.

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China to launch Shenzhou-11 manned spacecraft on Oct. 17

 The Shenzhou-11 manned spacecraft will be launched at 7:30 a.m. Monday Beijing Time, China's manned space program spokesperson said Sunday.

The spaceship will take two male astronauts Jing Haipeng and Chen Dong into space, said Wu Ping, deputy director of China's manned space engineering office, at a press conference at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center. The mission will be carried out with a Long March-2F carrier rocket, Wu said.

The spacecraft will dock with orbiting space lab Tiangong-2 within two days, and the astronauts will stay in the space lab for 30 days, she said. After that the Shenzhou-11 spaceship will separate with Tiangong-2 and return to Earth within one day, Wu said.

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'Heavenly Palace': China to Launch Two Manned Space Missions This Fall

The two missions are expected to become the country’s first steps to establishing a new space station in low-Earth orbit over the next decade.


Tiangong-2, which means “Heavenly Palace,” is a small space laboratory module, and will be launched in mid-September from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwestern China, atop a Long March 2F rocket. The space lab is slated to adopt on orbit at an altitude of some 244 miles (393 kilometers) above Earth, and will serve as the first component for China’s future space station.


Following that launch, in October the Shenzhou-11 spacecraft will launch from the same site, and dock with the Tiangong-2, delivering two male astronauts for a month-long mission, China Manned Space Engineering (CMSE) office reported.


related:

China Eyes Manned Radar Station on the Moon
3-2-1 Blast Off! China’s Largest Rocket En Route to Launch Site
China Releases Images of Orbiter, Lander, Rover for 1st Mission to Mars in 2020

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Shenzhou-11: Crew to orbit for 30 days, but no female taikonauts
Commander Nie Haisheng, left, Zhang Xiaoguang and Wang Yaping, right, ahead of the launch of Shenzhou-10 on June 11, 2013. (Photo: CNS)

More details about China’s human spaceflight missions are filtering through after the country announced its launch Tiangong-2 and Shenzhou-11 launch schedule for 2016.

On Sunday it was announced that the Tiangong-2 space lab will launch in the third quarter of 2016, and be visited by the Shenzhou-11 spacecraft in Q4.

Shenzhou-11 will carry two Chinese astronauts, popularly referred to as taikounauts derived from the Chinese ‘taikongren’ (太空人)

related: China outlines new space lab and crewed missions for 2016

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Shenzhou-11 arrives at launch centre ahead of human spaceflight missions
The Shenzhou-11 re-entry capsule at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in August 2016. (Photo: Framegrab/CCTV)

The Shenzhou-11 spacecraft that will be used for China's first human spaceflight mission since 2013 has arrived at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in the Gobi Desert.

The spacecraft will launch on a Long March 2F rocket in mid-October to rendezvous and dock with the country's second space lab, Tiangong-2.

The mission is part of preparations for the country to establish its own modular space station in orbit, starting with the launch of the core module around 2018.

related: China to launch ’Tianhe-1’ space station core module in 2018

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Shenzhou-11 reaches launch ground

China's Shenzhou-11 spaceship, set to take two astronauts into space, was delivered to the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China on Saturday.

General assembly and testing will begin at the center ahead of its launch scheduled for mid-October, said a statement by China's manned space engineering office.

The spaceship will transport personnel and supplies to China's second orbiting space lab Tiangong-2, which is to be launched in mid-September.

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Why will Shenzhou-11 carry only two astronauts to space?

Why will the manned spaceship Shenzhou-11 carry just two astronauts into space? Zhang Bonan, chief designer of the manned spacecraft system of the China Aerospace Science and Technology Group replied to the question from a reporter for Science and Technology Daily, saying that they are limited by the capacity of the life support system, so the number of the astronauts has to be reduced in order to extend the duration of the astronauts’ time in space.

As part of the country's space lab program, China plans to launch the Shenzhou-11 spacecraft in the fourth quarter of this year, putting it on course to dock with Tiangong-2, according to the program's spokesperson.

The plan has aroused some speculation from foreign experts and media. Australian space expert Morris Jones published an article pointing out that recent Chinese manned space missions have carried three astronauts into space each time. Since the Shenzhou-11 spacecraft is larger than the Russian Soyuz spacecraft and can easily hold three astronauts, Jones asked why China would reduce the number of passengers for the Shenzhou-11 space mission.

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China plans commercial space voyages for 2020
China's state-owned commercial aerospace manufacturer and provider has planned a three-step strategy to ignite the country’s space tourism industry, Global Times reported

Han Qingping, president of ChinaRocket Ltd. Co., disclosed the plan at an aerospace forum in Zhuhai, Guangdong province on Oct. 31. According to Han, from 2020 to 2024, the company will offer a smaller 10-ton class of spaceplane geared toward tourism, which will be capable of transporting three to five people to an altitude between 60 and 80 kilometers in the air, offering passengers a brief taste of weightlessness.

From 2025 to 2029, the company pledges to use a larger 100-ton spaceplane capable of flying 20 people to an altitude between 120 and 140 kilometers. This goal involves significantly more passengers than the current plans of other commercial spaceflight firms.

From 2030 to 2035, China Rocket plans to provide a longer space travel experience using a 100-ton spaceplane, which will fly 10 to 20 people to an altitude of 80 to 90 kilometers, supporting both intercontinental flights and commercial space flights.

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China launches Tiangong-2 "Heavenly Palace" to pave way for space station
Tiangong-2 lifts off on a Long March 2F-T2 rocket from the Jiuquan launch centre on at 22:04 Beijing time, September 15. (Photo: Xinhua)

China has successfully launched its Tiangong-2 space lab, marking a crucial step towards establishing a permanently crewed space station.

Tiangong-2 was launched by a Long March 2F rocket from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre at 22:04 Beijing time (14:04 UTC) on Thursday, taking just under ten minutes to enter orbit.

The 10.4 metre long, 3.35 wide spacelab will be visited in October by two astronauts aboard the Shenzhou-11 spacecraft, to conduct a range of scientific research and set a national record for mission duration.

related:
A comprehensive guide to China’s space activities in 2016
China's space program

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China Joins Ranks of Moon Explorers
A Chinese man takes a photo of his son in an astronaut suit, locally known as taikonauts, at the Science Museum in Beijing, Dec. 1, 2013. Photographer: Mark Ralston/AFP via Getty Images

China landed an unmanned rover on the moon, making the Asian nation the third country after the U.S. and the Soviet Union to touch down a spacecraft on the lunar surface.

The probe, carrying a rover dubbed Jade Rabbit that will survey the moon’s geology and natural resources, landed at about 9 p.m. Beijing time yesterday, the Xinhua News Agency said. China’s achievement comes 47 years after the Soviet Union performed a soft landing of its Luna 9 spacecraft on the moon.

The launch is part of the Asian nation’s growing space exploration ambitions, an effort which has seen the country spend billions of dollars even as other nations cut back. For its next step, China wants to land a lunar rover and return it to Earth in 2017, according to Xinhua.


China's World’s Largest Telescope
Built to detect alien existence

About 10,000 people in China will be relocated to make way for the world’s largest radio telescope, which is built to detect alien existence.

Built in the south-western Guizhou province, the 1.2 billion yuan (£128 million) project is part of the country’s ambitious hunt for aliens.

To do that effectively, state-run Xinhua news agency reported that officials will “evacuate” all homes within three miles (5km) of the radio telescope.

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