Spaceflight Now Home







NewsAlert



Sign up for our NewsAlert service and have the latest news in astronomy and space e-mailed direct to your desktop.

Enter your e-mail address:

Privacy note: your e-mail address will not be used for any other purpose.



China maintains hectic pace for more space program firsts
BY STEPHEN CLARK
SPACEFLIGHT NOW

Posted: March 5, 2010


Bookmark and Share

The leaders of China's human spaceflight endeavors say 2011 is shaping up to be the most ambitious year in the history of the country's space program.


A model of the Tiangong space laboratory.
 
China plans to launch the cornerstone of a new orbiting space laboratory some time in 2011. Weighing nearly 19,000 pounds, the Tiangong 1 module will be launched into orbit unmanned aboard a Long March 2F rocket from the Jiuquan space center in the Gobi desert, according to the state-run Xinhua news agency.

Xinhua reported Qi Faren, the former chief designer of the piloted Shenzhou spacecraft, outlined China's human spaceflight plans Wednesday at a meeting of a Chinese political advisory committee.

Tiangong means Heavenly Palace in English.

Beginning as early as late 2011, China will launch three Shenzhou spacecraft to rendezvous and dock with Tiangong 1 in orbit. The first mission, named Shenzhou 8, will launch unmanned and approach the module in China's first orbital docking attempt.

Within two years of Tiangong 1's launch, two more Shenzhou ships will fly to the fledgling space station with Chinese astronauts aboard. The crewed flights will contain two or three astronauts each for temporary visits, according to Xinhua.

Chinese astronauts would conduct scientific experiments aboard the complex, according to Xinhua.

Military observations and investigations will also be likely payloads for the small space station.

China is preparing its second moon orbiter for launch in October of this year. The Chang'e 2 probe will carry a high-resolution camera capable of spotting lunar surface features as small as 3 feet.

Chang'e 2 will map potential landing sites for follow-on robotic missions that will attempt to reach the moon's surface, another first for the Chinese space program. China has not set a date for Chang'e 3's lunar landing mission.

A new modular heavy-lift rocket called the Long March 5 is on schedule to begin launching around 2014, according to Liang Xiaohong, another member of the Chinese political advisory panel and party chief of China's state-owned launch vehicle development organization.

Liang was also quoted by the Xinhua news agency.

The Long March 5 will be capable of placing up to 55,000 pounds of payload into low Earth orbit, according to Chinese space officials.

John Glenn Mission Patch

Free shipping to U.S. addresses!

The historic first orbital flight by an American is marked by this commemorative patch for John Glenn and Friendship 7.
 U.S. STORE
 WORLDWIDE STORE

Final Shuttle Mission Patch

Free shipping to U.S. addresses!

The crew emblem for the final space shuttle mission is available in our store. Get this piece of history!
 U.S. STORE
 WORLDWIDE STORE

Celebrate the shuttle program

Free shipping to U.S. addresses!

This special commemorative patch marks the retirement of NASA's Space Shuttle Program. Available in our store!
 U.S. STORE
 WORLDWIDE STORE

Anniversary Shuttle Patch

Free shipping to U.S. addresses!

This embroidered patch commemorates the 30th anniversary of the Space Shuttle Program. The design features the space shuttle Columbia's historic maiden flight of April 12, 1981.
 U.S. STORE
 WORLDWIDE STORE

Mercury anniversary

Free shipping to U.S. addresses!


Celebrate the 50th anniversary of Alan Shephard's historic Mercury mission with this collectors' item, the official commemorative embroidered patch.
 U.S. STORE
 WORLDWIDE STORE

Fallen Heroes Patch Collection
The official patches from Apollo 1, the shuttle Challenger and Columbia crews are available in the store.
 U.S. STORE
 WORLDWIDE STORE

INDEX | PLUS | NEWS ARCHIVE | LAUNCH SCHEDULE
ASTRONOMY NOW | STORE

ADVERTISE

© 2014 Spaceflight Now Inc.