Sunday, October 30, 2011

China's space lab module Tiangong-1 ready for docking after postural adjustment

China's first space lab module Tiangong-1, or Heavenly Palace-1, has completed a 180-degree turn-around to prepare itself for the upcoming docking with spacecraft Shenzhou-8, ready to blast off early November in northwestern desert area, a space scientist said Sunday.

The target spacecraft adjusted itself to fly invertedly at 7:34 p.m. under the control of the Beijing Aerospace Flight Control Center, said Chen Hongmin, director of the command center for Chinese space program.

Chen said the spacecraft was lowered to the 343-km-high rendezvous and docking orbit on Sunday after a series of maneuver including orbit control and on-orbit testing since its launch into space on Sept. 29.

As of 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Tiangong-1 has orbited Earth for 30 days and 22 hours, according to Chen.

Monitoring results have shown that the spacecraft has been flying smoothly and stably and met with the requirement for the docking mission, Chen said.

The docking between Tiangong-1 and Shenzhou-8 has put up high requirement on the monitoring and control system as the maneuver of the two spacecraft is synergetic, Chen said.

Meanwhile, the dramatically changing weather conditions posed another challenge for scientists to ascertain the launch time for Shenzhou-8 at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the Gobi desert, according to Chen.

Scientists at the Beijing command center are racing to collect and analyze all data and information to work out corresponding measures and to calculate the precise launch time, Chen said.

Tiangong-1 lab module is expected to perform China's first-ever rendezvous and docking with Shenzhou-8 after the spacecraft's launch.

The rendezvous and docking technologies are considered crucial for China's manned space program.

Once China has mastered the technologies of rendezvous and docking, it will be equipped with the basic technologies and capacity required for the building of a space station, said Zhou Jianping, chief designer of China's manned space program.

"It will make it possible for China to carry out space exploration of larger scale," Zhou told Xinhua Sunday in an exclusive interview at the Jiuquan launch center.

"The mastering of rendezvous and docking technologies will lay a key technical foundation for China's building of space station and deep-space exploration," Zhou said.

China has so far mastered basic technologies for manned spacecraft and extravehicular activities (EVA), according to Zhou.

During the Shenzhou-7 mission in September 2008, astronaut Zhai Zhigang performed China's first-ever space walk, wearing EVA space suits made in China.

The docking will not only send astronauts and cargo supply to the space station, but also increase efficiency and lower risks for farther space exploration such as lunar landing and Mars visiting, Zhou said.

After its first space docking test in November, China will continue sending spacecraft Shenzhou-9 and Shenzhou-10 before 2012 for unmanned or manned docking with Tiangong-1, according to Zhou.

Zhou said China welcomes other countries to participate in its space program and is willing to join in international aerospace cooperation.

"We shall open our space station to the world to create a platform of scientific research for Chinese scientists and their peers from all over the world," Zhou said.

Wu Ping, a spokeswoman for China's manned space program, said on Sunday that China would invite officials and experts from the European Space Agency and the German Aerospace Center to observe the launch of the Shenzhou-8 spacecraft.

During the launch of Shenzhou-7 in September 2008, Russian aerospace experts were also invited to the launch center to observe the mission.

"The new knowledge obtained through space science research should be common wealth for human beings and should benefit the whole world," Zhou said.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

PLA officers to receive anti-terrorism trainings in Sri Lanka

Sri Lankas Army Commander Lt. Gen. Jagath Jayasuriya invited the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of the People’s Republic of China to send in more of their trainee students for professional military courses offered by the Sri Lanka Army in order to receive wider exposure in defeat of terrorism.

He extended the invitation when he met six -member Chinese delegation headed by Major General Qian Lihua, Chief of Foreign Affairs Office, Ministry of National Defence was accompanied to the Commander of the Army by the Chinese Ambassador Yang Xiuping.

Major General Lihua during his exchange of views with the Commander of the Army assured his Army’s fullest cooperation to the Sri Lanka Army in several areas of its professional training, exercises and further promotion of military assistance to Sri Lanka on request.

The visiting Chinese Chief of Foreign Affairs Office during talks told the Commander, that the PLA, impressed with the progress hitherto made by Sri Lankan Army de-miners, expects to offer 100 more de-mining kits to the Army for further acceleration of their work as a gesture of goodwill and appreciation.

Touching on their possibilities for increased intakes of Sri Lankan trainee officers to military academies in China, the visiting military officer promised Sri Lanka of more and more such openings in the future once a request to this effect is channeled through the Ministry of Defence (MoD).

He reminded that Sri Lanka Army’s de-mining students were the only foreign contingent trained in China as at present because of the excellent relations that exist between both countries as well as the Armies. ‘We have assisted Sri Lanka in the past 25 years or more. In peacetime too, we wish to further extend our assistance in all spheres, Major General Lihua quipped.

World powers and Armies in the world have lot to learn from a tiny country like Sri Lanka and its professional Army on its road to defeat of terrorism, Lieutenant General Jayasuriya commented during the talks.

Lieutenant General Jagath Jayasuriya, speaking high of the commendable Chinese contribution to the Army right throughout as the major force behind the country’s Security Forces requested for closer PLA interaction in special military training programmes, such as the ‘Exercise Cormorant Strike’ every year by sending their representation, was positively responded by the visiting Chinese delegate during bilateral talks.

Major General Qian Lihua further pointed out that 23 out of all PLA’s 63 training establishments in China conduct military training courses exclusively for foreign students and Sri Lanka’s studentship could be further increased in the future in consultation with the Chinese defence authorities, considering the unprecedented high standards of professional conduct of the Sri Lankan Army which could serve as a beacon of hope for the countries, afflicted with menace of terrorism.

The visiting Army official noted that the PLA in the future will collaborate closely with the Sri Lanka Military Academy (SLMA) at Diyatalawa and explore possibilities for further assisting the improvement of infrastructure facilities in the institute with the advanced technology in China. Commander of the Army during the final leg of the meeting with the delegation thanked the visiting delegation for their keen interest in interacting closely with the Sri Lanka Army and its appreciation of the Sri Lankan Army’s contribution to world peace.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

China sends French-made satellite into space

XICHANG, Sichuan - China's Long March-III2 rocket carrier sent a French-made telecom satellite into orbit from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center Friday afternoon, marking the first time for China to provide launch service for a European satellite operator.

It was also the 148th launch for the Long March rocket family.

According to information and data received by the Xi'an Satellite Measuring and Monitoring Center, the satellite and rocket carrier separated on schedule and the satellite is now in orbit.

The launch marked the first time for China to cooperate with a European satellite operator since the signing of a Sino-French satellite launch agreement in 2008.

The launch was carried out by the China Great Wall Industry Corporation and the China Institute of Rocket Carrier Technology, both under the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, as well as the China Satellite Launch and Tracking Control General (CLTC).

The W3C telecom satellite was built by Thales Alenia Space, a French satellite manufacturer, and is owned by Eutelsat, a leading provider of satellite communication services.

The W3C has a designed lifespan of 15 years and will provide television, radio, broadband, video and Internet service.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

China launches Tiangong space lab

China's first space lab module Tiangong-1, or Heavenly Palace-1, blasted off at 9:16 p.m. Beijing Time (1316 GMT) Thursday in a northwest desert area as the nation envisions the coming of its space station era in about ten years.

The unmanned module, carried by the Long March-2FT1 rocket, will test space docking with a spacecraft later this year, paving the way for China to operate a permanent space station around 2020 and making it the world's third country to do so.

More than ten minutes after the blastoff, Commander-in-chief of China's manned space program Chang Wanquan announced the launch's success at the control center in Beijing.

The success of the launch, however, is just a beginning, and the real challenge is space docking, said Yang Hong, chief designer of Tiangong module series.


Unlike previous Chinese space vehicles, the Tiangong-1 has a docking facility which allows it to be connected to multiple space modules in order to assemble an experimental station in low Earth orbit.

The Tiangong-1 will orbit the Earth for about one month, awaiting the arrival of the Shenzhou-8 unmanned spacecraft. Once the two vehicles successfully rendezvous, they will conduct the first space docking at a height of 340 kilometers above the earth's surface.

The Tiangong-1 flies at a speed of 7.8 kilometers per second in orbit, which leaves ground-based staff an error of less than 0.12 meter to control the two vehicles to dock in low gravity. China has never tried such test and could not simulate it on the ground.

After two docking tests with the Shenzhou-8, the Tiangong-1 will await Shenzhou-9, to be followed by Shenzhou-10, which will possibly carry a female astronaut, in the next two years, according to the plan for China's manned space program.

If the astronaut in the Shenzhou-10 mission succeeds with the manual space docking, China will become the third nation after the United States and Russia to master the technology.

President Hu Jintao watched the launch from the Beijing Aerospace Flight Control Center on Thursday, two days before China's National Day, witnessing the latest endeavor of China's manned space program since 1992.

Hu told the engineers, commanders and other workers at the control center to do every job in a "more aborative and meticulous" manner to ensure the success of the country's first space docking mission.

Other members of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, including Wu Bangguo, Jia Qinglin, Li Changchun, Xi Jinping, Li Keqiang and Zhou Yongkang, were also present.

Premier Wen Jiabao went to the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center to watch the launch process with He Guoqiang, member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee.

Chinese people were inspired by the successful launch.

"The Tiangong-1 has gone into the dark sky! We Chinese are on the way to inhabiting the vast universe," wrote Qichaoxiguanghai on Sina Weibo, China's most popular microblog service provider.

"I heard the news of the Tiangong-1's launch from the radio on a ship to Yangzhou," wrote microblogger Xingfufeiafei. "I am proud to share the pride that shakes the world. The pride of our nation is once again deep in my heart."