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Shenzhou Secrets: China Prepares for First Human Spaceflight ^ | September 24, 2003 | Leonard David

Posted on 09/24/2003 7:25:21 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife

After four unmanned trial flights, China's first-ever piloted spacecraft, the Shenzhou 5 is set to soar. When it does, and if triumphant, China will be propelled into an exclusive country club status: The third nation capable of independently rocketing humans into Earth orbit.

Although tight-lipped on a range of technical details, Chinese space officials have hinted at a multi-pronged human spaceflight program, including space station construction, as well as eventual travel to the Moon, all by 2020.

China's first piloted space journey could occur as early as next month. And as NASA comes to grips with a grounded space shuttle fleet, the Red Dragon is on the rise.

Historic flight Last week the Xinhua News Agency reported that Xu Guanhua, China's Science and Technology Minister, has stated that preparations for the historic flight were going smoothly, although no specific date for the takeoff was identified.

Rumor has it that the piloted Shenzhou 5 could be airborne as early as October 1, Chinese National Day -- the founding of the communist state. Others speculate -- including foreign intelligence analysts -- that mid-October appears to be the liftoff time frame. Several factors will dictate the launch date insist Chinese space planners, such as weather, solar activities and space radiation levels around Earth

Even the issue of threatening space debris is being addressed.

Last month, Chinese media outlets reported that Shenzhou 5 would be outfitted with an alarm system to avoid collisions between the craft and chunks of speeding space flotsam.

Mention of the Shenzhou alarm system came during a second national space debris workshop held in Shanghai. Du Heng, chief scientist at the Center for Space Science and Applied Research under the Chinese Academy of Sciences said the hardware allows the spacecraft to automatically dodge space litter.

Single-seat Shenzhou

Whenever Shenzhou 5 roars into space it will be perched atop a Long March 2F booster, departing from China's expansive Jiuquan Space Launch Center in northwestern Gansu Province. Touchdown of the craft is expected to be on Inner Mongolian grassland.

From late 1999 into early 2003, four shakeout flights of the Shenzhou spaceship have taken place.

The Shenzhou 5 features 3 modules, from front to end: An orbital module holding science equipment; the crew-carrying ascent/decent module; and a service module with attached solar panels, loaded with electronics gear and rocket engines.

While the crew compartment can hold as many as three passengers, Shenzhou 5 is seemingly destined to be operated by a lone pilot. Only one person will be aboard the upcoming mission, according to Ta Kung Pao, a Hong Kong-based web site.

The overall, multi-element national program for lofting its first pilot into space was given the go-ahead by the Chinese government in 1992, and is tagged Project 921.

Drawing upon the country's top jet fighter pilots, an initial group of 14 yuhang yuans, or astronauts, have been in training. They are reportedly all under 30 years of age, each with a flying time of over 1,000 hours. Of this cadre of carefully picked individuals, two of them are apparently trainers for the other astronaut candidates.

Pilot's mission: go up, survive…come down alive

British space sleuth, Phillip Clark, a leading authority on both China and Russia space progress, told that, at present, there is now a pool of just five people. One of those five will be the preferred candidate that slips into the Shenzhou 5 seat.

Clark said that China's space officials are likely to announce who will fly into space days before the launch.

"My guess is that they will also announce approximately how long the flight is going to last. They may also broadcast the launch live, breaking into whatever Chinese soap opera might be showing that day," Clark said.

There are still lots of unknowns about the impending flight, Clark said, "but I'm surprised how open the Chinese have been."

Based on reports by Chinese media outlets, Clark said that both the launch and landing of Shenzhou 5 will take place during daylight. Flight time for Shenzhou 5 is considered to be less than 24 hours.

Clark anticipates that the Shenzhou 5 flight will be "nice and simple." While zipping around the Earth, the spaceship will demonstrate its "significant" maneuvering capability, he said.

Over the last few months, Clark said, much of China's space muscle has been solely concentrating on readying the launch vehicle and the spacecraft.

"They want to make sure everything works properly," Clark said. "I think the pilot's mission is basically go up there, survive…and come down alive."

Human-rated rocket

Earlier this year, in a wide-ranging discussion with the People's Daily, some details were offered as to how the Shenzhou booster was human-rated.

Huang Chunping, deputy chief commander of the Jiuquan Space Launch Center was also identified as commander-in-chief of the specially outfitted booster that will lift Chinese space pilots into orbit, tagged the "Shenjian"-Long March 2F rocket.

Huang said that there is enormous pressure to assure the readiness of a piloted Shenzhou vehicle. He noted that both Russia and the United States carried out a dozen or so test shots prior to sending their first astronauts into space. In contrast, China is moving into manned flight after only four unpiloted missions, he said.

The Shenjian-Long March 2F booster features a range of safety systems. An automatic fault-detection and escape system is tied to 310 kinds of failure modes, Huang said. In designing one element of the escape system, a Russian design approach was once considered. "But they set the price at $10 million. Finally we solved the problem on our own," he added.

More than 3,000 factories and tens of thousands of scientists, technicians and managers are engaged in shaping China's manned space project, Huang said in the People's Daily interview.

Chinese copycats

Are Chinese engineers just copycats, blueprinting the Shenzhou after the Russian Soyuz spacecraft design?

Spaceships are spaceships, said Joan Johnson-Freese, chair of the Naval War College's National Security Decision Making Department in Newport, Rhode Island.

Everyone is interested in how much of the Shenzhou is Russian and how much Chinese, Johnson-Freese said. If one country builds a 737 airplane and the other builds an Airbus, are they similar or different? How different would skeptics like a Chinese rocket to be before it would qualify to be "their own," she pointed out.

"Rocketry is rocketry, I'm told. And once the basic principles are understood, successfully launching a rocket means being attentive to literally thousands of details … and understanding the details. More rocket accidents are found to be caused from inattention to detail than faulty design." Johnson-Freese said.

Yes, the Shenzhou is very similar to Soyuz, Johnson-Freese said. "Is that wisely learning from others rather than reinventing the wheel, or does it indicate a lack of ability or inferiority? Depends on what you are looking to prove. If the latter, then I would suppose that concerns about Chinese military benefits from their manned space program are lessened," she concluded.

Safer than Soyuz

It's clear that the Shenzhou booster has gotten a technology makeover, said British space analyst, Clark.

"The Long March 2F has improved guidance and control equipment. They've upgraded the engines and have new computer systems onboard. Plus, of course, there's the launch escape system," Clark said.

Clark said that the Chinese have taken a different path in designing Shenzhou's escape system - a better approach than that adopted for Russia's Soyuz vehicle.

Thanks to an extra set of motors mounted on the booster's shroud, escape of a Shenzhou craft from a failing Long March can be done at a very high altitude.

"So in that sense, I think Shenzhou is even safer than Russia's Soyuz," Clark said.

Another design difference from Soyuz is Shenzhou's orbital module.

Once the Shenzhou 5 flight draws to a close, its forward module will be released, as has been the case in the last three of Shenzhou's four test trips. Packed with experiments, and powered by its own solar panels, the orbital module is likely to stay spinning around the Earth for six months. While floating through space, the Shenzhou segment can be maneuvered by ground controllers.

What next?

Once the passenger-carrying Shenzhou 5 descent module touches down, what next for China's budding human space program?

"The Chinese program always progresses at a scale that makes a snail look supersonic," Clark explained. He expects a follow-on piloted mission in the summer of next year. Perhaps a larger crew would make that trip.

What follows in the near future is a possible docking between two Shenzhou vehicles. In fact, Clark said he expects the soon-to-fly Shenzhou 5 to be outfitted with a test set of docking hardware.

"Don't expect anything exciting and innovative with this mission. And certainly don't expect the Chinese to suddenly start flying crews every few months," Clark said.

Clark predicted that, for the foreseeable future, a maximum of two Chinese manned launches would fly in any 12-month period.

"They've got to build up a lot of their own experience…and that's going to take time for them to do," Clark advised.

International partnerships

Even before Shenzhou 5 flies, China's ever-growing technological aptitude has already spawned a number of deals with other spacefaring nations.

For instance, China and the European Union reached an agreement on September 18, a deal that has China participating in the Galileo project - not reviving the now lost-to-Jupiter probe, but taking part in Europe's major satellite-navigation program. This agreement spurs partnerships on satellite navigation in a wide range of sectors, notably science and technology, industrial manufacturing, and service and market development.

Another example is last month's agreement between China and Russia to plot a course together in future space exploration efforts.

No doubt that the successful flight of a piloted Shenzhou 5 would catapult China into top-drawer status in terms of nations capable of doing heady things in space.

The trek could trigger a number of actions said Roger Launius, Chair of the Division of Space History at the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.

"I am excited that there is a third nation that has made the investment in human spaceflight and will soon join the U.S. and Russia in this grand experiment," Launius said. "It is obvious that the Chinese are seeking to demonstrate to the world their great power status through this act. The prestige they will engender in this effort is something that they have been seeking for several years," he said.

Launius said one follow-on prospect is for China to become a part of the international partnership building the space station. "Perhaps their energy will help jump start a return to the Moon for humanity. I'd certainly like to think so," he said.

TOPICS: Business/Economy; Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; Foreign Affairs; Front Page News; Government; News/Current Events; Politics/Elections; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: china; communism; moon; space
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To: KevinDavis
It'll be interesting to see how the American press presents this news to the public, and their particular spin on it.
21 posted on 09/24/2003 7:29:33 PM PDT by Paulie
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To: Simmy2.5
Check out Scaled Composites and their Project X Candidate. First Space Flight to go this next month I believe from Mojave CA.

22 posted on 09/24/2003 7:38:09 PM PDT by Cvengr (0:^))
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To: Arkie2
Here's a better perspective of the US commercial venture 3 man craft designed to bring space travel to more common applications.

23 posted on 09/24/2003 7:43:00 PM PDT by Cvengr (0:^))
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To: KevinDavis
Here's a Popular Mechanics' styled diagram of the non-governmental spacecraft by Scaled Composites.
24 posted on 09/24/2003 7:45:54 PM PDT by Cvengr (0:^))
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To: Cvengr
Great photos.
25 posted on 09/24/2003 8:20:15 PM PDT by Brett66
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To: RightWhale; DTA; All
China develops its first solid-fuel satellite rocket [Full Text] BEIJING (AFP) - China has successfully test-fired its first four-stage solid-fuel rocket capable of putting small satellites into space on short notice, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

The launch of the Pioneer I rocket on September 16 at north China's Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center makes China only the third country capable of developing such rockets, after the United States and Russia, a spokesman for China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp (CASIC) told Xinhua.

The rocket is capable of putting payloads of up to 100 kilograms (220 pounds) into orbit around the earth to help with resource exploration, environmental monitoring and surveys, the spokesman said.

The announcement comes just weeks ahead of China's planned manned space mission, which is widely expected to take place next month, based on media reports.

The Xinhua report did not say whether the rocket had any connection to the launching of space flights or whether it could launch satellites for military use.

The People's Daily website said the rocket would be convenient for short-term, short notice use, such as to launch satellites to monitor sudden natural disasters or to broadcast sports events.

"Compared with powerful launch vehicles that use liquid fuel, the solid-fuel launch vehicle, popularly known as Pioneer I, requires much less preparation time to launch, and is much easier to operate," the spokesman said.

It takes 12 hours or less to prepare for the launch of a satellite using the Pioneer I rocket, whereas about three months are needed to prepare the traditional liquid-fuel launch vehicle, including the time for shipping, installation and testing, and filling it with liquid fuel.

The Pioneer I also can be launched from a mobile pad, the spokesman said.

Regardless of whether launch vehicles are used for commercial or military purposes, experts said China's capability in producing launch vehicles was posing competition for other space powers, such as the United States.

"On the commercial side, Chinese space launching capability presents a very competitive alternative to Americans and Europeans," said Robert Karniol, Bangkok-based Asia-Pacific editor for Jane's Defense Weekly.

"The Chinese have been launching foreign satellites for some time, and have launched about 20 to date."

Other countries are also alarmed by the potential military challenges China's space and satellite capabilities can pose for them, Karniol said.

"The Chinese military, like many militaries in other countries, have communication satellites, reconnaissance satellites, and have been developing navigation and global positioning satellites," Karniol said.

"Communication satellites significantly improve the command and control of the armed forces. Reconnaissance satellites provide imagery for military action to follow and global positioning satellites, among other things, significantly improve the guidance systems of missiles."

Karniol was unaware of the specific capabilities of the latest rocket.

Officials at the China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp (CASIC) could not be reached for comment. [End]

26 posted on 09/25/2003 1:35:11 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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I'm surprised it took 16 replies for someone to mention Clinton('s sharing of missile technology with the Chicoms). Shame on us!
27 posted on 09/25/2003 6:57:55 AM PDT by MrConfettiMan ("Yes! I am a citizen! Now which way to the welfare office?" - Apu, The Simpsons)
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To: Paulie
It'll be interesting to see how the American press presents this news to the public

The news has been followed in the specialty press. The general press has not taken a huge interest in the story. After the flight, when all the China-tech detractors are silent, assuming the flight is successful, there will be some editorial pieces but no alarm.

28 posted on 09/25/2003 9:02:56 AM PDT by RightWhale (Repeal the Law of the Excluded Middle)
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To: RightWhale; All
China set to join ranks of space-faring nations*** BEIJING - At a "mission control launch site" located just off the Avenue of Eternal Peace in downtown Beijing, hundreds of eighth-graders in blue and red running suits learn to "count down" a rocket launch. They sit at a computer simulation in a "Fly to Space" exhibition at the Military Museum here.

Yet for the first time in the nation's history, the idea of Chinese spaceflight is not something merely fictional for these students. China's manned space ambitions are right now at T-minus days - and counting. Sometime in the daylight hours in the next two weeks, from a remote pad in western Gansu Province, China will attempt to put a single astronaut into orbit for probably24 hours. The launch of a Shenzhou 5 capsule on top of a Long March 2F rocket is the next giant leap in a Chinese space program that, on paper, is every bit as ambitious as the US Apollo missions of the 1960s - with Beijing aiming later at a space station, the moon, and beyond.

If the Shenzhou 5 is successful, China enters an elite club of nations - including only the US and Russia - that has sent men and women into space.

The budding Chinese program is expected to galvanize national pride and unity. It also positions China to eventually develop a satellite and communications-based technology that is central to the kinds of military operations the US has been showcasing in Afghanistan and Iraq.***

29 posted on 10/02/2003 1:47:06 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
ELINT? 2 foot optics? What is that?
30 posted on 10/02/2003 8:48:04 AM PDT by RightWhale (Repeal the Law of the Excluded Middle)
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To: RightWhale; All
Manned space flight worth the risks By Jake Garn *** HUMAN SPACE FLIGHT is not a luxury. Nor is it a whim, passing fad or eccentric hobby. Make no mistake, human space flight is critical to the future well-being of the United States and, ultimately, the world. The continuation of human space flight is a necessity.

For those who accept that premise, it is vital that we get the space shuttle flying again as safely and as quickly as possible. Our very future may depend on it.

To not understand or acknowledge that Earth is but a stepping stone for humankind is to ignore history, reality and Manifest Destiny. Through age, natural catastrophe or by our own hand, life on Earth has a finite amount of time left. For the human species to go on, we must go out into the far and promising reaches of space. We will do this, or we will eventually perish on the stepping stone adjacent to endless possibilities and salvation.

....Human space flight is not a luxury, and the People's Republic of China, above all others, seems to recognize that. The PRC is poised to launch its first astronauts, and with them launch potentially the most ambitious plan ever for humans in space.

They have their eyes on the moon, Mars and beyond. The question for our country is: Do we cede the future of human space flight, and the future in general, to them or another nation?***

31 posted on 10/03/2003 4:57:03 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
I don't ride Pres Clinton's case as hard as some, but after China launches their taikonaut, I think I will start riding Clinton's case, not because a chip was transferred, but because he allowed Algore to drive the US space program into the ground. But there will be much to share among all presidents from Nixon to present, and it will be shared.
32 posted on 10/03/2003 8:59:58 AM PDT by RightWhale (Repeal the Law of the Excluded Middle)
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To: RightWhale
China Quiet on Eve of Space Flight*** BEIJING -- The launch could happen as early as this weekend from a remote base in the Gobi Desert. China's first manned space flight would carry one "taikonaut" - or as many three. It could last from hours to several days.

Other than that, the Chinese government isn't really saying.

After 11 years of planning to join the space-faring elite, China is on the brink of making history and reaping a propaganda windfall. But as the hour approaches, the communist government is staying silent about a date and other details, wary of risking the damage of public setbacks.

……….Beijing has nurtured the dream of manned space flight since at least the early 1970s, when its first program was scrapped during the upheaval of the 1966-76 Cultural Revolution. The current effort began in 1992 under the code name Project 921.

Four unmanned Shenzhou capsules have been launched, orbiting the Earth for up to a week and landing by parachute in the northern grasslands of China's Inner Mongolia region.

Foreign experts said Shenzhou 3 suffered a hard landing and might have been damaged. But Chinese officials said the fourth test flight went off without a hitch.

Such success has encouraged Chinese researchers who want support for sending probes to the moon and Mars.

On Sunday, the secretary-general of the government's Commission of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense was quoted by a state news agency as issuing a rare public affirmation of official interest in such ambitions.

"In the future," the China News Service quoted Wang Shuquan as saying, "China will conduct tests on lunar-landing flight."***

33 posted on 10/06/2003 1:28:32 PM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: hdrider
I was thinking the same thing.

Shenzou secrets: China prepares for first Human sacrifice.

It's just the way I think, pretty sick I must admit, but far closer to the truth I am afraid.
34 posted on 10/06/2003 1:30:56 PM PDT by Ogmios
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To: Cincinatus' Wife
The space workers downed tools only briefly on national day on October 1 to sing the national anthem and raise the Chinese flag, according to Hong Kong's pro-Beijing Takungpao daily, monitored here. They also "swore an oath to realise the ancient dream of the Chinese nation to fly to the heavens", the newspaper said.

From Beijing, the north capital. They are serious about this ancient dream, something NASA never was.

35 posted on 10/06/2003 2:00:12 PM PDT by RightWhale (Repeal the Law of the Excluded Middle)
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To: RightWhale
China Waging War on Space-Based Weapons***The PLA also is experimenting with other types of satellite killers: land-based, directed-energy weapons and "micro-satellites" (search) that can be used as kinetic energy weapons. According to the latest (July 2003) assessment by the U.S. Defense Department, China will probably be able to field a direct-ascent anti-satellite system (search) in the next two to six years.

Such weapons would directly threaten what many believe would be America's best form of ballistic-missile defense: a system of space-based surveillance and tracking sensors, connected with land-based sensors and space-based missile interceptors. Such a system could negate any Chinese missile attack on the U.S. homeland.

China may be a long way from contemplating a ballistic missile attack on the U.S. homeland. But deployment of American space-based interceptors also would negate the missiles China is refitting to threaten Taiwan and U.S. bases in Okinawa and Guam. And there's the rub, as far as the PLA is concerned.

Clearly, Beijing's draft treaty to ban deployment of space-based weapons is merely a delaying tactic aimed at hampering American progress on ballistic-missile defense while its own scientists develop effective countermeasures.

What Beijing hopes to gain from this approach is the ability to disrupt American battlefield awareness--and its command and control operations--and to deny the U.S. access to the waters around China and Taiwan should the issue of Taiwan's sovereignty lead to conflict between the two Chinas.

China's military thinkers are probably correct: The weaponization of space is inevitable. And it's abundantly clear that, draft treaties and pious rhetoric notwithstanding, they're doing everything possible to position themselves for dominance in space. That's worth keeping in mind the next time they exhort "peace-loving nations" to stay grounded.***

China's PLA Sees Value in Pre-emptive Strike Strategy [Full Text] WASHINGTON, Aug. 11, 2003 - The military strategy of "shock and awe" used to stun the Iraqi military in the opening campaign of Operation Iraqi Freedom might be used by the Chinese if military force is needed to bring Taiwan back under communist control.

According to the released recently The Annual Report on the Military Power of the People's Republic of China, the country's military doctrine now stresses elements such as "surprise, deception and pre- emption." Furthermore, the report states that Beijing believes that "surprise is crucial" for the success of any military campaign. Taiwan, located off the coast of mainland China, claimed independence from the communist country in 1949. The island has 21 million people and its own democratic government.

China, with 1.3 billion people, claims sovereignty over the tiny island, sees Taiwan as a breakaway province and has threatened to use military force against Taiwan to reunify the country. And China's force against Taiwan could come as a surprise attack.

But "China would not likely initiate any military action unless assured of a significant degree of strategic surprise," according to the report.

The report states that Lt. Gen. Zheng Shenxia, chief of staff of the People's Liberation Army's Air Force and an advocate of pre-emptive action, believes the chances of victory against Taiwan would be "limited" without adopting a pre-emptive strategy.

The report says that China now believes pre-emptive strikes are its best advantage against a technologically superior force. Capt. Shen Zhongchang from the Chinese Navy Research Institute is quoted as saying that "lighting attacks and powerful first strikes will be widely used in the future."

China's new military thinking has evolved over the past decade. PLA observers have been studying U.S. military strategies since the first Gulf War, when they noticed how quickly U.S. forces using state-of-the-art weapons defeated Iraqi forces that in some ways resemble their own.

Since then, the report states the PLA has shifted its war approach from "annihilative," where an army uses "mass and attrition" to defeat an enemy, to more "coercive warfighting strategies."

The PLA now considers "shock power" as a crucial coercion element to the opening phase of its war plans and that PLA operational doctrine is now designed to actively "take the initiative" and "catch the enemy unprepared."

"With no apparent political prohibitions against pre- emption, the PLA requires shock as a force multiplier to catch Taiwan or another potential adversary, such as the United States, unprepared," the report states.

Ways the PLA would catch Taiwan and the U.S. off guard include strategic and operational deception, electronic warfare and wearing down or desensitizing the opponent's political and military leadership. Another objective would be to reduce any indication or warning of impending military action, the report states.

Preparing for a possible conflict with Taiwan and deterring the United States from intervening on Taiwan's behalf is the "primary driver" of China's military overhaul, according to this year's report. Over the course of the next decade the country will spend billions to counter U.S. advances in warfare technology, the report states. [End]

36 posted on 10/06/2003 2:02:03 PM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: Ogmios
Shenzou secrets: China prepares for first Human sacrifice.

LOL...Would you trust your life to anything built with Harbor Freight quality tools?

I see dead people...

37 posted on 10/06/2003 2:08:09 PM PDT by AngryJawa (Just JDAM!!!)
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To: AngryJawa
There is no way, and I can just imagine where the darn thing will go down, right in the middle of Taiwan.

Now wouldn't that start a mess?
38 posted on 10/06/2003 4:13:25 PM PDT by Ogmios
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To: Ogmios
China develops its first solid-fuel satellite rocket***BEIJING (AFP) - China has successfully test-fired its first four-stage solid-fuel rocket capable of putting small satellites into space on short notice, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

The launch of the Pioneer I rocket on September 16 at north China's Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center makes China only the third country capable of developing such rockets, after the United States and Russia, a spokesman for China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp (CASIC) told Xinhua.

The rocket is capable of putting payloads of up to 100 kilograms (220 pounds) into orbit around the earth to help with resource exploration, environmental monitoring and surveys, the spokesman said.

The announcement comes just weeks ahead of China's planned manned space mission, which is widely expected to take place next month, based on media reports.

The Xinhua report did not say whether the rocket had any connection to the launching of space flights or whether it could launch satellites for military use.***

39 posted on 10/07/2003 12:00:30 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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To: All
China details space plans ***A top defence official, Wang Shuquan, confirmed what has been reported before in Chinese media - that the country is planning lunar landings after it succeeds in putting a man in space. And the state-run Beijing Youth Daily newspaper has reported that China plans to send a research satellite to orbit the Moon within the next three years.

A lunar orbiter would be launched by rocket and reach the Moon in eight or nine days, the paper said. It would circle the Moon for a year, gathering information about the lunar geology, soil, environment and natural resources, it added. The BBC's correspondent in Beijing, Louisa Lim, says these comments are a sign that Chinese ambitions in space go far beyond a manned space flight. ***

40 posted on 10/07/2003 4:10:37 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
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