China Enjoyed Stellar Year in Space

Yutu rolls out onto the moon. (Credit: CNSA)
Yutu rolls out onto the moon. (Credit: CNSA)

China had a highly successful year in space in 2013, sending a second crew to live aboard the Tiangong-1 space station in June and becoming only the third nation to successfully soft land a spacecraft on the moon in December. As the year ended, the Yutu rover had completed its first exploration of the lunar surface and had entered a hibernation period for a long lunar night.

With increasingly sophisticated spacecraft, a reliable stable of Long March launch vehicles, and ambitious plans for the future, China has made itself a major player in the international space arena as space agencies in the United States and Europe face budgetary pressures and Russia struggles to revive a once formidable space program.

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China Opens Up Space Program to Foreign Astronauts

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 opening up its human spaceflight program to foreign astronauts:

 

We would like to train astronauts from other countries and organizations that have such a demand, and we would be glad to provide trips to foreign astronauts,” said Yang Liwei, deputy director of China Manned Space Agency. We will also welcome foreign astronauts who have received our training to work in our future space station.”

 

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ESA, China Meet to Explore Joint Human Space Missions

A taikonaut emerges from China’s Shenzhou 7 spacecraft after a successful orbital flight

PARIS, 8 October 2012 (ESA PR) — Wang Zhaoyao, Director General of the China Manned Space Agency, accompanied by the first Chinese female astronaut, Liu Yang, met ESA Director General Jean-Jacques Dordain at the Agency’s headquarters in Paris on 8 October.

Mr Dordain congratulated Mr Wang on the successful Shenzhou-9 mission, stating how impressed he had been when learning of the flawless automatic and manual docking with Tiangong-1.

Following earlier discussions, the two sides have agreed to continue talking about possible avenues for cooperation between ESA and the China Manned Space Agency (CMSA).

A delegation from CMSA and the Chinese Astronaut Centre will visit the European Astronaut Centre in Cologne in the near future with a view to sharing experiences in astronaut training.

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China Completes Construction of First Space Station

China's Tiangong-1 space laboratory with a Shenzhou spacecraft approaching it. (Credit: CNSA)

China finishes construction of first unmanned space module
Xinhua

China has finished construction of its first unmanned space module, Tiangong-1, and it is testing the module’s electronic, mechanical and thermal properties, a military source said here Tuesday.

The 8.5-tonne Tiangong-1 will be put into preset orbit in 2011, the source added.

The space module is expected to carry out China’s first space docking, with the Shenzhou-8 spacecraft, which will be launched in the second half of 2011 after Tiangong-1.

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China Looks to Cooperate on ISS Work

China's Tiangong-1 space laboratory with a Shenzhou spacecraft approaching it. (Credit: CNSA)

China Open To Human Spaceflight Cooperation
Aviation Week

China’s human spaceflight program is developing a 13-ton cargo carrier to supply the space station it plans to orbit late this decade, but the program’s leader is ready to discuss using it for International Space Station logistics, as well.

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China Looks to Launch Tiangong-1 Space Station By End of 2010

China's Tiangong-1 space laboratory with a Shenzhou spacecraft approaching it. (Credit: CNSA)
China's Tiangong-1 space laboratory with a Shenzhou spacecraft approaching it. (Credit: CNSA)

Chinese officials have said that they plan to launch their Tiangong-1 space station by the end of next year or in 2011, according to a report on CCTV.

Qi Faren, Shenzhou-5 designer, said, “Quality is the key to technology. We must guarantee a successful launch. We will launch it whenever we are ready. It will be the end of 2010, or the beginning of 2011.”

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China Seeking International Partners for Space Lab

China Developing Unmanned Module as Space Station Precursor
Space News

China hopes to attract international partners to its effort to send an unmanned space module into low Earth orbit in late 2010 as a precursor to a larger human-tended space station, Zhou Jianping, chief designer of China’s manned space program said April 2 at the National Space Symposium here.

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Is China’s Tiangong a Bargaining Chip for ISS Cooperation?

Over at Aviation Week, Jeffrey Manber has a theory about why the Chinese made a detailed announcement about the Tiangong orbital space station:

Why the announcement from Beijing now? One answer is that the end of their first lunar mission is a perfect moment to detail far more ambitious plans. But I think that could well be an incorrect explanation.

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China’s Tiangong Facility Being Built By Military

Craig Covault has more on China’s planned space station project over at Spaceflight Now:

China is aggressively accelerating the pace of its manned space program by developing a 17,000 lb. man-tended military space laboratory planned for launch by late 2010. The mission will coincide with a halt in U.S. manned flight with phase-out of the shuttle.

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China to Launch Space Station Module in 2011

China plans first space docking for 2011
AFP

China will launch a space module next year and carry out the nation’s first space docking in 2011 as a step towards its goal of building a space station, state media said Sunday.

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