Tag: ChinaPage 2 of 21

Ukraine Looks to Extend Space Cooperation with U.S., China

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Ukraine_logoSpace News has an extensive Q&A with Yuriy Boyko, Ukraine’s Vice Prime Minister for Ecology, Natural Resources, Energy and Space. The interview primarily focuses on the nation’s space program, its joint Cyclone 4 launch vehicle program with Brazil, and its efforts to increase cooperation with the United States and China.

Some of the highlights:

  • Ukraine’s main launch vehicles include Zenit (Sea Launch, Land Launch), Dnepr (joint program with Russia), Cyclone 4 (joint program with Brazil), and the first stage structure for Orbital Sciences Corporation’s Antares.
  • Ukraine spends between $400 million and $500 million on its space program mostly for science work, but receives about $600 million annually in revenues from commercial work;
  • Brazil and Ukraine have committed $1.5 million (split equally) over a three-year period to Cyclone 4, which should have its first test flight from the Alcantara Launch Center by early 2015;
  • The partners hope that South American countries with satellite programs will flock to the Alcantara facility on Brazil’s Atlantic coast;
  • The upper stage developed for the Cyclone 4 could be a good fit for the Antares rocket;
  • Boyko recently completed consultations with NASA and U.S. commercial space companies concerning cooperative programs, with the two governments establishing a framework for further cooperation;
  • There are no specific cooperative programs to announce yet between Ukraine and American government and private entities;
  • Ukraine would like to become involved in the International Space Station program;
  • Boyko says that Ukrainian specialists have extensive experience with radiation shielding technology, which could help the United States with human Mars and deep space missions;
  • Ukraine is consulting with China, which is very interested in developing large propulsion systems.

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Moon Express Enables Private American Scientific Collaboration on China Moon Mission

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The Chang'e-3 lander and Yutu rover on the moon.

The Chang’e-3 lander and Yutu rover on the moon.

Silicon Valley, CA, December 1, 2013 (Moon Express PR) – Moon Express, a U.S. commercial lunar enterprise, is enabling scientific collaboration between the International Lunar Observatory Association (ILOA) and China’s Chang’e-3 Moon mission successfully launched today from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Sichuan province, southwest China.

The U.S. private sector collaboration on Chang’e-3 is made possible through a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed between ILOA and the National Astronomical Observatories, Chinese Academy of Sciences (NAOC) on September 4, 2012 in Hawaii, and a MOU signed between ILOA and the China National Space Administration (CNSA) on August 13, 2013, in Beijing.

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Chinese to Launch Lunar Rover on Monday

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(Credit: CNSA)

Model of Chinese lunar rover Yutu. (Credit: CNSA)

China’s surging space program will embark on its most ambitious robotic mission yet on Monday as it launches the Chang’e-3 mission to the moon. The spacecraft will land and deploy a six-wheel rover named Yutu (Jade Rabbit) that will explore the surface for three months.

The launch aboard a Long March-3B rocket from Xichang is scheduled for Monday at 1:30 a.m. local time (Sunday, 12:30 p.m. EST).  The moon landing — the first by any country since the Soviet Luna 24 mission in 1976 — is scheduled for mid-December. Only the United States and Soviet Union have soft landed spacecraft on the lunar surface.

Chang’e is named for the Chinese goddess of the moon. Yutu is the jade rabbit kept by the goddess.

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China Positions Planned Space Station for Post-ISS Era

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Engineer concept for Chinese space station. (Credit: CNSA)

China has provided the most detailed plans yet for its planned multi-module space station, which is scheduled to begin full operations in the early 2020’s. Irene Klotz of Space News reports:

China is positioning itself to provide orbital laboratory space, experiment racks and facilities to scientists worldwide following the completion of the U.S.-led international space station program.

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The Best of Times, the Worst of Times: A Tale of Two Human Space Programs

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commercial_crew_earthAll the promise, perils and contradictions of America’s human spaceflight effort were on display earlier this week in Washington, D.C.

Things were looking good for a day or so, but then the proverbial other shoe dropped to remind everyone of the deep trouble that lies ahead as NASA attempts to restore its human spaceflight capability and send astronauts beyond low Earth orbit.

As NASA struggles to execute a series of ambitious programs on increasingly tight budgets, the main beneficiary appears to be the bumbling, crisis prone Russian space agency Roscosmos, which has reaped a financial windfall as a result of America’s equally bumbling human spaceflight policy. And matters could get worse before they get better (for NASA, at least).

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Guess Who Else is Developing a LOX Methane Engine

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CASC
CASC — the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation — reports it has reached a milestone in its development of a new LOX methane rocket engine.

“Recently, a new generation of methane liquid oxygen rocket engine ignition system-wide test to be successful for the first time, signifying that our LOX methane engine development has reached the international advanced level,” according to a story by China Space News published on the CASC website.

The story (in Chinese) is here. You’ll have to open the page in Google Chrome (which has built-in translation) or run it through a translator.

SpaceX is developing a LOX methane engine that will be used as an upper stage for its Falcon rockets. The engine will be tested at the NASA Michoud facility in Mississippi.

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Will China Surpass the U.S. in Space by 2020?

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

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

Today marks the 10th anniversary of China’s first manned spaceflight, an occasion that has resulted in some soul searching over the Middle Kingdom’s significant progress in space and whether it is poised to take the lead from the United States in the decade ahead. The anniversary comes as NASA is all but shutdown due to a budget impasse in Washington.

Former NASA astronaut Leroy Chiao, just back from the International Astronautic Congress in Beijing, sees a perfect storm brewing between China’s ascent and budget restrictions on America’s space program.Writing in Space.com, Chiao sketched out a scenario where China surpasses the U.S. in space in about seven years.

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Chinese Engineers Propose Super Heavy Booster

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Although no formal program has been approved, Chinese engineers are eying super heavy boosters designed to send taikonauts to the moon and beyond:

Chinese engineers are proposing a Moon rocket more powerful than the Saturn V of the Apollo missions and matching the payload of NASA’s planned Space Launch System (SLS) Block 2, the unfunded launcher that would put the U.S. back into super-heavy space lift.

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China Launches New Rocket Aimed at Operationally Responsive Space Capabilities

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china_flagGregory Kulacki at the Union of Concerned Scientists notes the successful flight of a new launch vehicle by China’s military forces and discusses its strategic significant:

On 25 September 2013 China launched another earth observation satellite into orbit. The spacecraft, identified in Chinese press reports as the Kuaizhou 1, is a small earth observation satellite that will be used for disaster management and will be operated by China’s National Remote Sensing Center. But the launch had a second purpose: to test a new solid-fueled launch vehicle the Chinese military plans to use to provide a rapid ability to replace Chinese satellites that might be damaged or destroyed by an enemy attack.

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China to Hold Long March Pricing Steady

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long_march_launch
Space News
reports on pricing for the Long March, a family of boosters that has racked up an impressive series of launch successes:

The company selling Chinese Long March rockets on the commercial market said Sept. 24 that it is maintaining prices for telecommunications satellite missions at about $70 million, a price it says is backed by a 96 percent success record over 181 flights as of Sept. 23.

In a series of presentations here, officials from Chinese government agencies and China Great Wall Industry Corp. (CGWIC), the company that markets the Long March vehicle, said the Long March rocket has established itself with domestic and export demand despite the 15-year ban on U.S.-built satellite launches aboard Chinese rockets.

Until Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) of Hawthorne, Calif., arrived on the scene with advertised launch prices that bested even those of the Chinese, the Long March was considered the low-cost option among providers of rockets carrying satellites to geostationary transfer orbit, where most communications satellites are dropped off in orbit.

CGWIC officials point out that SpaceX has yet to prove its ability to maintain its prices — between $58 million and around $65 million for commercial customers — as it inaugurates its Falcon 9 v1.1 rocket and ramps up production to meet the company’s large commercial backlog.

Read the full story.