China Plans Launch of Space Station Core During First Half of Year

Artist’s conception of China’s Tianhe-1 space station. (Credit: China Manned Space Engineering)

China will launch the Tianhe core module of its first permanent space station aboard a Long March-5B Y2 rocket from the Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Site during the first half of 2021, according to the chief designer of China’s human spaceflight program. Xinhua reports:

“Subsequent space missions include the launches of Tianzhou-2 cargo craft and Shenzhou-12 manned craft after the core module is sent into orbit,” Zhou [Jianping] said.

China is scheduled to complete the construction of the space station around 2022.

Two experiment modules named Wentian and Mengtian will be attached to the core. Launches of the new modules are scheduled for 2021 and 2022.

The space station will be similar in size to the Mir space station built by the Soviet Union during the 1980’s. It will have a mass about one-quarter that of the International Space Station.

Chinese astronauts will travel to the space station using three-seat Shenzhou spacecraft. Later flights will be aboard the nation’s next-generation crewed spacecraft, which will be capable of carrying six or seven astronauts. The next-generation vehicle is being designed for trips to the moon.

Robotic Tianzhou-2 spacecraft capable of carrying around 6,000 kg of cargo will resupply the station.

The Space Review Looks at SETI, Chinese Military Space


In the Space Review this week…

SETI at 50
Fifty years after the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) started, efforts have yielded no evidence of other civilizations, but the search continues. Jeff Foust reports on the past and future of SETI as discussed at a recent event.

This space intentionally left blank: The limits of Chinese Military Power
Last week the Defense Department released its latest version of a report on the military capabilities of the People’s Republic of China. Dwayne Day examines what the report includes, and what it does not, about China’s military space projects.

Because it’s there
Who should go into space, and why? Bob Clarebrough makes the case for broader participation in space exploration by people who can communicate the experience in a myriad of ways.

Review: How It Ends
How does it all end: life, the universe, and everything? Jeff Foust reviews a book by an astronomer who explains how it all will, or at least could, end for humans, the universe, and everything in between.











Russian Phobos-Grunt Mars Probe to Carry Chinese Instruments

Hong Kong PolyU Press Release

The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) is working closely with the well-established Russian Space Agency in designing a state-of-the-art space tool which will be carried onboard a Russian spacecraft for the Red Planet in the 2009 Sino-Russian Space Mission – the first strategic interplanetary collaboration between China and Russia.

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Chiao: Deepen U.S., China Cooperation in Space

Former NASA Astronaut Leroy Chiao makes the case for space cooperation between the United States and China on his blog.

“It makes sense politically and programmatically to cooperate with China, in all areas. Space would be a good place to symbolically signal such a shift in policy. The United States did this with Russia in the early 1990’s. At the time, as a skeptic, I didn’t see the point of cooperating with our former enemy and I objected to using our nation’s space program as a foreign policy tool. I thought that the Russians were technically backward. Having grown up during the Cold War, I “knew” these things to be true. It was not until I started training for Expedition 10, that I came to respect the Russians, their technology and their culture. I began to understand the benefits of using U.S. assets and programs to further political friendship through cooperation.

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China Produces First Lunar Map, Calls for Cooperation with India, Japan

The emerging Chinese space program has been busy, releasing its first full map of the lunar surface based on data returned Chang’e-1 orbiter. Chinese scientists called it the most complete map of the moon ever produced.

Buoyed by the success of the year-old mission, Chinese officials have approved the second and third missions in the series. Chang’e-2 – set for launch in 2011 – will “conduct experiments involving five core technologies such as orbital adjustments and soft landings,” the Xinhua news agency reports. Chang’e-3 will land on the moon with a rover the following year.

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