Tuesday, December 29, 2009

China to launch a second lunar probe next year

Another spacecraft launch likely in 2010 to prepare for space lab

China plans to launch Chang'e-2, the country's second lunar probe, at the end of 2010, space authorities announced yesterday.

The design and production of Chang'e-2 is complete, and the lunar orbiter is undergoing ground tests, the State Administration of Science Technology and Industry for National Defense said yesterday in a news release.
Second moon probe next year

Chang'e-2 is expected to test the soft-landing technological capability for the Chang'e-3 and provide high-resolution images of the landing area, the administration said.

"Progress on six key technologies of Chang'e-2 has been made, including the lunar capture, orbit control and research on high-resolution stereo camera," the administration's spokesman said.

Ye Peijian, chief designer of the nation's first lunar probe, had told China Daily earlier that the launch was expected in October.

The administration said that Chang'e-3, the country's lunar lander and rover, is also well on the way toward liftoff. The project is now in the prototype stage.

Chang'e-2 and Chang'e-3 are part of the second phase of the country's lunar exploration program, which consists of three stages - "orbiting", "landing" and "returning".

Ye said earlier that Chang'e-3 is likely to be launched before 2013. The country's first lunar probe, Chang'e-1, was launched in October 2007 and ended its 16-month mission on March 1 this year.

Meanwhile, China's manned space project is also likely to see a breakthrough next year, a top scientist said.

Qi Faren, chief designer of the Shenzhou spacecraft, told Guangzhou Daily on Sunday that Tiangong-1, or Heavenly Palace-1, a spacecraft that will test docking technology and prepare for the future construction of space laboratories, will be launched by the end of next year at the earliest.

According to the official website of China's manned space program, www.cmse.gov.cn, the launch date of Tiangong-1 is set between late 2010 and early 2011.

Within two years of the launch of Tiangong-I, China will launch Shenzhou-VIII, Shenzhou-IX and Shenzhou-X spaceships, to dock with Tiangong-1, the website said.

Two space laboratories, Tiangong-II and Tiangong-III, will follow, and China aims to build its own space station by the year 2020, the website said.

China became the third nation - after the US and Russia - to send people into space when Yang Liwei went into orbit aboard the spaceship Shenzhou-V on Oct 15, 2003. Three other astronauts were sent to space in Shenzhou-VII and carried out the country's first space walk in September 2008.

Shen Liping, deputy chief designer of China's manned space program, was quoted by Guangzhou Daily as saying on Sunday that China's first woman astronaut will be able to fly to outer space sooner than the targeted 10 years.


Monday, December 21, 2009

Indonesian warships to be equipped with Chinese-made missiles

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The Indonesian Navy`s warships will be equipped with missiles made in China, Navy Chief of Staff Admiral Agus Suhartono said here on Monday.

"We will continue to procure C-802 missiles from China after we tested the weapon with good results,` he said adding that the Indonesian Navy was also negotiating with China to obtain C-705 missiles that were more slender in shape.

"Both types of missile will be added to the armament of of the navy`s fast patrol boats and Van Speijk warships," Agus said.

He said the navy would increase the combat capabilities of its Van Speijk and fast patrol boats by integrating their armament systems with weaponry from China.

"We are still unable to make missiles domestically. But fortunately, state shipbuilding firm PT PAL already has the technology to integrate weapon systems imported from abroad with those already in place on our warships," he said.

The navy chief admitted with limited budget for his department, his officials would continue making a priority scale on the procurement of weaponry system.

"Our main priority now is security in sea border areas and the outer islands of Indonesia," he said adding that the navy would also replace some 27 of its warships with newer types and better combat capabilities.

Agus Suhartono had previously said Indonesia`s western waters were prone to various maritime crimes such as smuggling, human trafficking and poaching.

"The sea crimes are not the only problems we have in the western waters. In these areas we also have border problems with India, Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia," the navy chief said.

He said that in order to maintain security in the area, the navy conducted routine patrols in the Indonesian western waters. It had maintained a joint patrols with its counterparts from India, Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia.

As a result, the maritime crime rate in the western waters had dropped , particularly in the Malacca Strait.


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Peru to buy MBT-2000 tanks from China

Peru close to a deal with China to buy military tanks, says Defense Minister

Five MBT-2000 tanks made in China started yesterday's Military Parade, led by the Army General (EP) Richard Pitot Guzman.

The MBT-2000 is one of the models that Peruvian Army is testing with the aim of replacing the old T-55 bought from the former USSR during the 60s and 70s; but it was reported that another three models are currently under evaluation.

However, the MBT-2000s that participated in the parade were decorated with all the General Pitot's military insignias, and this fact has created a great controversy in Peru.

While the Army states that the technical evaluations are not over yet and that the presence of these tanks was only “part of an exhibition,” Defense Minister Rafael Rey says that the Government “is close to a deal" to buy an undetermined number of tanks from China.

But the controversy is just starting. According to La Republica, these tanks have already been tested in July, by a technical commission that traveled to China, and determined, in a report signed by General Jorge Vega Yáñez, that the tanks did not meet all the specialized requirements; especially in regards to defeating the Chilean Leopard 2A4, as well as shooting 125mm missiles.

Norinco, the manufacturer, was allegedly in conditions to meet all the Peruvian requirements, but in two years' time.

Rafael Rey said that Peru is purchasing these tanks because “our current operative tanks are in pretty bad conditions.”


Monday, December 7, 2009

US and China to cooperate on ARJ21 commuter jet

Chinese Jet Gets Boost From Obama

One of the few concrete signs of cooperation to emerge from this week's U.S.-China summit could boost Beijing's drive to become a global aircraft maker.

President Barack Obama pledged Tuesday to push for closer technical collaboration and eventual U.S. safety approval for China's ARJ21 commuter jet. That amounts to both a symbolic and practical step to counter Beijing's growing frustration with U.S. aviation policy and U.S. restrictions on the purchase of certain technologies.

The high-profile U.S. initiative is especially significant because China's own safety regulators are still a year or more away from approving the 70-to-100-passenger aircraft being developed by Commercial Aircraft Corp. of China Ltd., or Comac.

But signaling Washington's desire to provide technical support and regulatory certainty down the road also raises questions about both the overseas role and the independence of the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, which has taken more of an arm's-length approach toward certifying the safety of China's future airliners.

Over the years, the FAA has forged close ties with Chinese carriers and aviation regulators through a multitude of joint safety efforts, data sharing and training programs. Hundreds of Beijing officials, airline managers, pilots and controllers have visited their U.S. counterparts. Partly as a result, the country's commercial-aviation accident rate—China has gone nearly five years without a major fatal crash—is by some measures better than that of the U.S.

But when it comes to regulatory approval, the FAA has tried to maintain greater distance. Before Mr. Obama's announcement, for example, FAA representatives in China pulled back from helping Comac teams developing the ARJ21 because of concern that such assistance might be considered a conflict of interest when other parts of the agency gear up to determine whether the plane meets U.S. safety standards. Nearly half the plane's parts come from the U.S. An FAA spokeswoman declined to comment on President Obama's announcement or what it means for future FAA steps.

So far, Western interest in buying the ARJ21 has been limited. At the Zhuhai air show in southern China last year, Comac announced that its first overseas order had come from General Electric Co. GE, which is supplying the engines, agreed to buy five of the regional jets with an option for 20 more, in a deal that could amount to $750 million. But GE also said that it planned to lease all the planes inside China. FAA certification is critical if Beijing hopes to attract other foreign buyers, and some U.S. officials predict it could take as long as two years. Currently undergoing flight tests, the plane has taken about twice as long to develop as its backers initially projected.

In some ways, however, the current discussions may be more of a prelude to broader commercial and regulatory cooperation on a larger Comac-designed jet, the more than 160-seat C919. Slated for certification no earlier than 2016, that model would compete directly with the two leading global airliner suppliers, Boeing Co and Airbus, a unit of European Aeronautic Defence & Space Co. Though still in early design, Chinese officials have said the C919 should have operating costs 10% below those of comparable Western jetliners

Safety and business considerations aren't the only reason for U.S.-Chinese friction over aerospace collaboration. Honeywell International Inc. has struck a tentative deal to provide avionics and terrain-avoidance warning systems to Chinese customers. But one glitch, according to Honeywell officials, is that Chinese authorities insist that the updated digital maps Honeywell sells outside China can't include data about sensitive facilities and man-made obstacles throughout the country.