China, U.S. Exchanged Data on Chang’e-4 Moon Landing

A view of the moon from the Chang’e-4 lander. (Credit: CNSA)

The Associated Press reports that China and the United States exchanged data about the landing of the former’s Chang’e-4 spacecraft on the moon earlier this month despite severe limits placed on space cooperation between the two nations by the U.S. Congress.

The space agency’s deputy director, Wu Yanhua, said NASA shared information about its lunar orbiter satellite in hopes of monitoring the landing of the Chang’e 4 spacecraft, which made China the first country to land on the far side of the moon earlier this month.

China in turn shared the time and coordinates of Chang’e 4’s scheduled landing, Wu told reporters during a briefing on the lunar mission. He added that while NASA’s satellite did not catch the precise moment of landing, it took photographs of the area afterward.

The state-run China Daily said that was the first such form of cooperation since the 2011 U.S. law was enacted.

China Lunar Plans Focused on South Pole

China’s Yutu 2 rover drives off the Chang’e-4 lander. (Credit: CNSA)

China’s aggressive long-range program explore the moon includes a heavy focus on the south pole where probes have detected water.

China’s Chang’e-4 mission is currently exploring the moon with a rover and lander on the far side. The vehicles are communicating with Earth via an orbiting spacecraft. The Chang’e-4 mission also includes two lunar CubeSats, one of which is still operational.

China plans to launch the Chang’e-5 mission by the end of 2018 to bring back soil samples from the lunar surface. The plan is to bring back at least 2 kg (4.4 lb) of soil from the Mons Rümker region in the northwest section of the moon.

Xinhua reports there are three other moon missions planned in the years ahead:

  • Chang’e-7, set for launch in 2023, will carry out comprehensive surveys of the south pole;
  • Chang’e-6, scheduled to be launched in 2024, will bring back samples from the lunar south pole; and,
  • Chang’e-8, scheduled for launch in 2027, will test technologies to lay the ground work for a research base on the lunar surface.

China expects to conduct crewed missions to a lunar base sometime during the 2030’s.

China’s Chang’e-4 Could Land on Lunar Far Side this Week

Von Karman crater, the planned landing site for Chang’e-4.

China Daily said the Chang’e 4 spacecraft could land on the moon by Thursday.

The Chang’e 4 robotic probe is expected to land on the South Pole–Aitken basin on the silver sphere’s far side sometime between Wednesday and Thursday, according to information from China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp, a major contractor of the country’s lunar exploration programs.

The State-owned conglomerate previously said that the spacecraft would fly 26 days before landing on the lunar surface.

Chang’e 4 was lifted atop a Long March 3B carrier rocket on Dec 8 at the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Southwest China’s Sichuan province to fulfill the world’s first expedition on a lunar region that never faces the Earth.

The lander includes the following payloads:

  • landing and terrain cameras;
  • a low-frequency spectrometer;
  • a lunar lander neutrons and dosimetry (LND) dosimeter supplied by Kiel University in Germany;
  • a container with silkworm eggs and seeds of potatoes and Arabidopsis thaliana; and,
  • a miniature camera to record the growth of the eggs and seeds.

The rover’s payloads include:

  • a panoramic camera;
  • a lunar penetrating radar system;
  • a visible and near-infrared imaging spectrometer; and,
  • and an advanced small analyzer for neutrals (ASAN) analyzer provided by the Swedish Institute of Space Physics (IRF) to measure the interaction of the solar winds with the lunar surface.

The lander and rover will communicate with the Chang’e 4 relay satellite, which was launched last year.

Chang’e-4 Prepares for Landing on Moon’s Far Side

Von Karman crater, the planned landing site for Chang’e-4.

China’s Chang’e-4 spacecraft lowered its orbit around the moon on Sunday in preparation for a landing on the lunar far side, Xinhua reports. The mission consists of a stationary lander and a rover.

The probe has entered an elliptical lunar orbit, with the perilune at about 15 km and the apolune at about 100 km, at 8:55 a.m. Beijing Time, said CNSA.

Since the Chang’e-4 entered the lunar orbit on Dec. 12, the ground control center in Beijing has trimmed the probe’s orbit twice and tested the communication link between the probe and the relay satellite Queqiao, or Magpie Bridge, which is operating in the halo orbit around the second Lagrangian (L2) point of the earth-moon system….

The control center will choose a proper time to land the probe on the far side of the moon, according to CNSA.

France Outlines Plans for Space Cooperation with China

BEIJING (CNES PR) — In the presence of Bernard Larrouturou, General Director of Research and Innovation, Jean-Yves Le Gall, President of CNES, spoke on Monday, December 10, 2018 in Beijing, as part of the preparation of the joint scientific and technological committee Franco -Chinese and presented the space cooperation between France and China.

On this day, he also had the opportunity to speak with Wang Zhigang, Minister of Science and Technology, Zhang Kejian, CNSA Administrator, and Wang Zhenyu, head of the CNSA’s Office of International Cooperation. Chinese Academy of Sciences.

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PolyU Develops State-of-the-Art Tool & Tech to Support Chang’e-4 Mission

Professor Kai-leung Yung with a model of the Chang’e-4 lunar lander. (Credit: PolyU)

HONG KONG (PolyU PR) — The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) proudly supports the nation’s current lunar exploration, Chang’e-4 lunar probe, with advanced technologies, namely the design and development of an advanced Camera Pointing System, and an innovative lunar topographic mapping and geomorphological analysis technique in landing site charaterisation for the space craft.

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Video: A Closer Look at the China’s Chang’e-4 Lunar Mission

Video Caption: China’s Chang’e-4 lunar mission was launched by a Long March-3B rocket from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center, Sichuan Province, southwest China, on 7 December 2018, at 18:23 UTC (8 December at 02:23 local time). The Chang’e-4 (嫦娥四号) lunar mission (lander and rover) is scheduled to land in the Aitken crater, located in the Aitken Basin, in the South Pole region on the far side of the Moon.

Chang’e-4 Relay Satellite Enters Planned Orbit

Von Karman crater, the planned landing site for Chang’e-4.

Chinese officials report the Chang’e-4 relay satellite has entered its planned orbit, where it will await the year-end launch of the program’s lunar lander and rover bound for the far side of the moon.

The satellite, named Queqiao (Magpie Bridge) and launched on May 21, entered the Halo orbit around the second Lagrangian (L2) point of the Earth-Moon system, about 65,000 km from the Moon, at 11:06 a.m. Thursday after a journey of more than 20 days.

“The satellite is the world’s first communication satellite operating in that orbit, and will lay the foundation for the Chang’e-4, which is expected to become the world’s first soft-landing, roving probe on the far side of the Moon,” said Zhang Hongtai, president of the China Academy of Space Technology (CAST)….

He said the Halo orbit was a three-dimensional irregular curve. It is extremely difficult and complex to maintain the satellite in orbit.

“If there is a tiny disturbance, such as gravitational disturbance from other planets or the Sun, the satellite will leave orbit. The orbit period is about 14 days. According to our current plan, we will conduct orbit maintenance every seven days,” Zhang said.

Russia, China Sign Lunar Cooperation Agreement

TOKYO (ROSCOSMOS PR) — On March 3, 2018, the Roscosmos State Corporation and the Chinese National Space Administration, in the framework of the International Space Development Forum (ISEF) in Tokyo, signed an agreement on intentions for cooperation in the field of exploration of the Moon and deep space, and the creation of a Data Center on lunar projects.

The sides expressed their readiness to consider the possibility of cooperation in the implementation of the Russian mission to launch the orbital spacecraft Luna-Resurs-1 (Luna-26) in 2022, as well as the planned Chinese mission for landing in the region of the south pole of the Moon in 2023. The document was signed by the general director of Roskosmos state corporation Igor Komarov and the deputy head of the Chinese national space administration Y. Yanhua.

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Luxembourg Deputy PM in China to Sign Agreements on Space Resources

LUXEMBOURG (Government PR) — Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy Etienne Schneider will pay a working visit to the People’s Republic of China from January 15 to 16, 2018.

The Luxembourg delegation will travel to Beijing where Etienne Schneider will meet with political and economic leaders. The Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Economy will be, among others, welcomed by the Minister of Commerce, Zhong Shan, to take stock of the development of trade relations between the two countries.

Interviews with senior officials from the China Academy of Science and the Chinese Space Agency will also be on the agenda. During these interviews, cooperation agreements between Luxembourg and the People’s Republic of China will be signed in the scientific and spatial field, and more particularly in the field of exploration and use of resources in space.

ESA Astronauts Train with Chinese for Future Space Missions

ESA astronaut Matthias Maurer jumping from a Chinese Shenzou capsule during sea survival training, on 19 August 2017. ESA astronauts. (Credit: ESA–Stephane Corvaja, 2017)

YANTAI, China (ESA PR) — ESA astronauts Samantha Cristoforetti and Matthias Maurer joined 16 Chinese astronauts earlier this month for nine days of sea survival training off China’s coastal city of Yantai. The ultimate goal is for ESA to establish a long term cooperation with China and ESA astronauts to fly on China’s space station.

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FAA Releases Annual Compendium of Commercial Space Transportation

faa_compendium_2016The Annual Compendium of Commercial Space Transportation: 2016

Executive Summary

The size of the global space industry, which combines satellite services and ground equipment, government space budgets, and global navigation satellite services (GNSS) equipment, is estimated to be about $324 billion. At $95 billion in revenues, or about 29 percent, satellite television represents the largest segment of activity. Following this is government space budgets at $76 billion, or 24 percent, and services enabled by GNSS represent, about $76 billion in revenues. Commercial satellite remote sensing companies generated on $1.6 billion in revenues, but the value added services enabled by these companies is believed to be magnitudes larger. Because remote sensing value added services includes imagery and data analytics from other sources beyond space-based platforms, only the satellite remote sensing component is included in the global space industry total.

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UAE Space Agency Signs MOU With China

UAE_Space_Agency_LogoDUBAI, UAE (UAE Space Agency PR) — The UAE has signed a memorandum of understanding with the People’s Republic of China concerning defining a framework for collaboration in studies and development in space science, as well as the peaceful exploration of outer space. The signing came during the visit of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, to China. The visit aimed at exploring collaboration opportunities in various sectors, including energy, space, financial services, commerce, transportation and education.

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U.S. Report Wearily Eyes Rise of Chinese Space Program

Long March launch
Long March launch

A section of the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission’s 2015 Report to Congress casts a weary eye on the rise of the Chinese space program.

“China’s rise as a major space power challenges decades of U.S. dominance in space—an arena in which the United States has substantial military, civilian, and commercial interests,” the report states.

Below are some key excerpts of the report’s section about China’s space program, including an overview, a description the program’s structure, conclusions and recommendations. You can read the full report here. The section on the space program begins on p. 272.

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China Looks for Help Building Space Station; NASA is Outsider Looking In

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

China is looking for partners on its space station, whose core module is set to launch in 2018:

China is soliciting international participation in its future manned space station in the form of foreign modules that would attach to the three-module core system, visits by foreign crew-transport vehicles for short stays and the involvement of non-Chinese researchers in placing experiments on the complex, the chief designer of China’s manned space program said Oct. 12….

The Chinese orbital station, consisting of a core module and two experiment-carrying modules, can be expanded to a total of six modules if international partners want to invest in their own components, said Zhou Jianping, chief designer of the China Manned Space Program at the China Manned Space Agency.

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