Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Space

China's First Spacewalk 148

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the hold-your-breath dept.
Smivs writes "The BBC reports that China will launch its third manned space mission in late September, according to state-run news agency Xinhua. The Shenzhou VII flight will feature China's first-ever space walk, which will be broadcast live with cameras inside and outside the spacecraft. For the spacewalk, two crew members will go into the spacecraft's vacuum module. One yuhangyuan (astronaut) will carry out the spacewalk; the other is there to monitor the activity and assist in case of an emergency. Two types of spacesuits — one made in China, the other from Russia — will be carried up on the flight. It is unclear why China has opted for two different types of spacesuit. Spaceflight analyst Dr Morris Jones commented that China might want to test the suits against each other. Alternatively, he said, it might not be ready or willing to fly a mission exclusively with its own suits."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

China's First Spacewalk

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 08, 2008 @08:35AM (#24918343)
    ...and I can't stand by to let it happen! To arms, people, they're going to censor the IIS's wifi!
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Evil Pete (73279)

      You mean the ISS. Though an attack on IIS would probably be business as usual, after all doesn't it stand for It Isn't Secure ?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    before they build a sphere around the earth to keep us inside.

  • State run media? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tom90deg (1190691) <Tom90deg@yahoo.com> on Monday September 08, 2008 @08:41AM (#24918379) Homepage

    Hmm..Well, while I wish the Chinese astronauts the best of luck and hope they get back safely, I doubt that the film is going to be "Live" More likely? A nice safe delay of, oh...a hour to make sure that nothing gets shown that's not supposed to be shown.

    China has too much media control to trust something as unpredictable as live TV, especially in a situation where so many things could go wrong.

    On that note, good luck! Maybe this'll get us off our asses and back up into space! A little competition never hurt nobody.

    • Re:State run media? (Score:5, Informative)

      by damburger (981828) on Monday September 08, 2008 @08:59AM (#24918543)
      Why not? Most live events have a delay, because sometimes bad shit happens. I don't think the Chinese state not making its own impromptu snuff film has anything to do with their censorship practices.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Tom90deg (1190691)

        True, most live events have a delay, I believe the moon mission had a 5 minute (about) delay. The difference was this delay was because of the ol' laws of physics. With China...It may be for a different reason. As an example, I believe that China's first manned mission was not shown until it had actually lifted off, then all the channels switched to the "Breaking news story!" to show it rocketing upwards. I recall something about that, but of course, I could be wrong.

      • Re:State run media? (Score:4, Informative)

        by necro81 (917438) on Monday September 08, 2008 @09:26AM (#24918825) Journal

        Most live events have a delay

        Yes, but in uncontrolled media markets, there is an incentive to keep that delay as short as possible. If you don't have it as close to live as possible, the next guy will, or some blogger. When the President comes on to give a live address, it has maybe a 5-second delay, not an hour. This is, in part, how some live shows occasionally get into trouble - remember the infamous "wardrobe malfunction" as the SuperBowl a few years back?

        When Armstrong stepped onto the Moon, he was live to the entire world.

        • Yes, but in uncontrolled media markets, there is an incentive to keep that delay as short as possible.

          Yeah, well in space, nobody can hear the sound of an invisible hand clapping.

          - RG>

    • by oodaloop (1229816) on Monday September 08, 2008 @09:13AM (#24918675)

      A little competition never hurt nobody.

      Except the loser.

      • by steelfood (895457)

        If the loser plays his cards right, he has more to gain than the winner*.

        * Does not apply to picking up women.

    • Re:State run media? (Score:5, Informative)

      by jellomizer (103300) on Monday September 08, 2008 @11:02AM (#24920077)

      Well on the manned Moon mission for the US. If something happened and they couldn't have returned to home, they would have turned off all contact with them and Nixon had a wonderful speech to give about their deaths preprepared to give in this case even if they were still alive but stranded on the moon.

      • Re:State run media? (Score:5, Informative)

        by cmr-denver (1315039) on Monday September 08, 2008 @06:02PM (#24926019)

        There were actually extensive plans made for that very contingency. The speech (draft) was written for Nixon by William Safire. In my opinion, it is one of the finest pieces of writing I've ever seen:

        "Fate has ordained that the men who went to the moon to explore in peace will stay on the moon to rest in peace.

        These brave men, Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin, know that there is no hope for their recovery. But they also know that there is hope for mankind in their sacrifice.

        These two men are laying down their lives in mankind's most noble goal: the search for truth and understanding. They will be mourned by their families and friends; they will be mourned by their nation; they will be mourned by the people of the world; they will be mourned by a Mother Earth that dared send two of her sons into the unknown.

        In their exploration, they stirred the people of the world to feel as one; in their sacrifice, they bind more tightly the brotherhood of man.

        In ancient days, men looked at the stars and saw their heroes in the constellations. In modern times, we do much the same, but our heroes are epic men of flesh and blood.

        Others will follow, and surely find their way home. Man's search will not be denied. But these men were the first, and they will remain the foremost in our hearts.

        For every human being who looks up at the moon in the nights to come will know that there is some corner of another world that is forever mankind."

    • Re:State run media? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Lincolnshire Poacher (1205798) on Monday September 08, 2008 @11:28AM (#24920379)

      > I doubt that the film is going to be "Live"

      The Shenzhou 6 launch in October 2005 was the first to be broadcast live in China, so they may yet surprise you.

      After all. if something does go wrong there is little that can be done to hide it. This isn't Leonov's era - telemetry and communications will be under constant scrutiny.

    • A nice safe delay of, oh...a hour to make sure that nothing gets shown that's not supposed to be shown.

      "Get that stage hand out of the shot!!"

  • by Hrshgn (595514) <rince2001&gmx,ch> on Monday September 08, 2008 @08:43AM (#24918391)
    I'm just asking myself how they decided which of the two astronauts will have the honor to try the Chinese spacesuit?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by cashman73 (855518)
      I'm not sure that would such an "honor". Judging by the quality of 90% of their other products, I think I'd take the "Made in Russia" suit, myself,... ;-)
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        WHOOOOOSH

      • by dafing (753481)
        cant believe you didnt get the joke :) If you read things aloud, it makes it easier to understand at times, getting the emphasis on certain words right etc. Such as "honour" above.

        Hey, China made my 12 inch Powerbook, which I love so much, I give it a hug each time I put it in and out of its bag, which I do a total of 4 times a day :)

    • I'm sure their space suits have been thoroughly tested by hundreds of political pr... um, volunteers.
    • by master_p (608214)

      They have already chosen the lucky gent with the red shirt...

  • Good... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by interactive_civilian (205158) <mamoru.gmail@com> on Monday September 08, 2008 @08:43AM (#24918393) Homepage Journal

    I realize that China isn't the moral leaders of the world, but I'm happy to see them playing catch-up when it comes to manned space-flight.

    Because, given the way China tends to think, when I see them putting men in space, it makes me think they already have long term plans for trips to the moon, and perhaps even a permanent presence off-planet. And I say, it's about time.

    Humans could do much worse than start making the steps to get us off this rock.

    • Re:Good... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by damburger (981828) on Monday September 08, 2008 @09:03AM (#24918581)

      Catch up? I would say that Shenzhou is at least comparable with other manned space flight systems. The shuttle is on its last legs and crippled with problems. Soyuz is also due to be retired.

      As essentially a larger version of Soyuz, with an orbital module that can operate indepedently. The program might not be moving fast (although now the Chinese have finished with the olympics they might redirect more resources) they do have the most technically impressive craft currently flying.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by inhuman_4 (1294516)

        I am afraid I must disagree. The Shenzhou is certianly newer, and probably better then the Soyuz. But it is far from the most impresive.

        The big deal with the Space Shuttle is that it can carry seven people, a large chunk of cago, and the shuttle can be re-used (although not as well as was planned). It may be near the end of its life span, but as far as capabilities go it is still the best the world has.

        For the Soyuz is claim to fame is its consistancy. The Soyuz design is the most tested manned flight syste

        • Re:Good... (Score:4, Insightful)

          by damburger (981828) on Monday September 08, 2008 @09:49AM (#24919109)

          The ability to carry up cargo and passengers isn't that impressive when you look at the costs. Putting up the same quantity of people and cargo with 2 Soyuz launches and one Proton costs $180 million whilst a Shuttle launch costs over $400 million.

          Reusability isn't all its cracked up to be for the Shuttle. It has made it more expensive than throw-away alternatives, and the thing has to be practically rebuilt every flight as well.

          The only capability the Shuttle has which the Russian launchers do not is returning cargo, and that hasn't been used in a while.

          • I agree with you completely about the costs. No doubt about that, the Russian way is much cheaper.

            But as far as "the most technically impressive craft currently flying", the Space Shuttle despite its faults, is more capable then any other spacecraft out there.

            Does it get a good bang for its buck? Hell no.

            But the gap is not as bad as it first seems. While the Russians can build thier spacecraft on the cheap, could the USA? The cost/kg of non-manned craft currently in operation clearly favours the Russians as

            • by damburger (981828)

              I just don't see why the shuttle is 'technically impressive'. What abilities does it possess that a combination of capsule and cargo rocket doesn't?

              Reusability? If the Chinese so desired, the descent module of a Shenzhou could probably be reused. It would probably be about as economical as reusing a shuttle orbiter.

              Electronics? The Chinese electronics industry is not to be sniffed at. Its growing faster than their traditional heavy industry is at the moment, and I doubt it is significantly behind the US cut

              • "What abilities does it possess that a combination of capsule and cargo rocket doesn't?"

                The ability to do it with one spacecraft. Neither the capsule or cargo is as technically capable on thier own, as the Space Shuttle. Of course having two launchers is simpler, easier and cheaper. Thats not the point. I am not comparing space programs, I am comparing individual spacecraft.

                "the descent module of a Shenzhou could probably be reused"

                The descent module of the apollo craft could be re-used. Thats a strawman ar

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          The Soyuz design is the most tested manned flight system out there.

          Except for the Shuttle, of course. Which has flown more flights (123 as opposed to 99), with a higher success rate (two major failures as opposed to four).

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by AJWM (19027)

            Given that the Progress resupply ships are essentially unmanned Soyuz capsules, I think you have to count a lot more than merely the 99 manned flights. The launch system is essentially the same in either case, even if there are detail differences in the orbital vehicles. (I can't readily find total number of Progress launches, but it was 43 - all successful - to Salyuts 6 and 7; plus many since then to Mir and 30 to ISS.)

            • Given that the Progress resupply ships are essentially unmanned Soyuz capsules, I think you have to count a lot more than merely the 99 manned flights.

              Whyever should we care about Progress in a discussion of manned spaceflight? Which is what this is, in case you missed the GP.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by DerekLyons (302214)

          The Soyuz design is the most tested manned flight system out there.

          Not even remotely, the current mark of the design only has thirteen flights. Soyuz, overall, only has 90 odd flights *total* as compared to the Shuttle which is up around 120.

          So while yes it may be old and crappy, its got a solid reputation.

          A reputation totally undeserved and based on many people being utterly ignorant of the history of Soyuz - which includes a long series of dangerous near misses, total mission failures, a

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by jimdread (1089853)

      Because, given the way China tends to think, when I see them putting men in space, it makes me think they already have long term plans for trips to the moon, and perhaps even a permanent presence off-planet. And I say, it's about time. Humans could do much worse than start making the steps to get us off this rock.

      The first step would be to build a space station in Earth orbit. Okay, let's pretend that's done. Then we need to build a spaceship at the space station. This spaceship would be used to fly from

  • Smart testing (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Chairboy (88841) on Monday September 08, 2008 @08:46AM (#24918417) Homepage

    China is fast tracking their progress in space, and they're doing pretty good risk management to get it done. They used Russian experience when designing their capsule system (their spacecraft has a number of big similarities to the Soyuz capsule, very very big similarities, and now they're taking up a backup suit in case a design flaw appears during the test that would affect a rescuer. It's a fine idea and doesn't indicate some big uncertainty about their own design, it shows a clear headed decision to trade a possible nationalistic PR win for a measured, risk aware backup plan that puts the lives of their Taikonauts ahead of the usual spin goals.

    I'm not a huge fan of PRC in general, but their space program has been well executed so far. They're making good use of available data while still innovating on their terms instead of having to build everything from scratch.

    • by damburger (981828)

      They look the same, but in the same way that Buran and the US shuttle looked the same. Aerodynamic principles mean there are only certain ways to do things. Looking the same doesn't mean it is old Russian technology with a Chinese flag stamed on it.

      Shenzhou is home-grown Chinese technology. Had they simply wanted to smack a Soyuz on top of a Long March rocket they could've done that, and saved themselves the last 6 flights. The amount of testing alone should convince you that the systems of that spacecraft

    • Re:Smart testing (Score:4, Insightful)

      by v1 (525388) on Monday September 08, 2008 @09:53AM (#24919155) Homepage Journal

      From the sound of it, this "vacuum module" is there so they can evacuate it slowly and check for leaks, and if a problem happens, re-pressurize it quickly. That's safer for lots of reasons. Firstly, you don't need to get the guinea pig back IN the ship before you can begin to re-pressurize them. Secondly no risk of a hose splitting and causing them to rocket away from the ship. (and break a tether)

      The use of two suits is a good plan also. I'd expect them to have two people in the vacuum module, one in the russian suit and one in their new suit. If there's an emergency with the new suit, having someone in the module to help could make all the difference.

      Does make me wonder though how much ground testing they've done. One would assume they've done a lot of vacuum testing on the ground already, but they sure are going about this slowly despite that. They should already know if their suit is OK before flying it up into space. The lack of gravity seems unlikely to change the behavior of the suit.

      • by damburger (981828)

        Isn't using a space suit in an evacuated crew compartment for an extended period a problem in itself? Obviously you have airlocks, but you don't hang around in those often doing tests.

        I seem to recall some repairs had to be done in an evacuated module of Mir at one point, and it was tough (for some reasons relating to heat IIRC)

    • China is fast tracking their progress in space

      Fast tracking? As compared to who? Two flights, with a third in the offing, in five years isn't 'fast' by any reasonable usage of the word.

  • Nine comments... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tgd (2822) on Monday September 08, 2008 @08:50AM (#24918445)

    All nine of you are totally busted for pretending you read the article, since the link doesn't work.

  • by Dan East (318230) on Monday September 08, 2008 @08:52AM (#24918471) Homepage Journal

    Why does the media use foreign names for astronauts from other countries? We've got cosmonaut and now "yuhangyuan"? That's ridiculous. Is "astronaut" somehow reserved for only US spacefarers? I think this whole thing is a leftover from the cold war, where it was somehow insulting to use the same terminology for Soviet and US astronauts, probably because of the fierce competition.

    On another note, if the astronauts don't leave the confines of their ship, and merely evacuate all the air, is that really a "space walk"?

    • by arkarumba (763047)

      Why do we call Rome by that name. The locals call it Roma - you'd think they would know they proper name of the place they live.

      Why do we call Spain by that name. The locals call it España. You'd think they would know the proper name.

      Things can have multiple names. Its the spice of life.

      They are not neccessarily "making up" new names for the heck of it. Its a bit of courtesy to call their yuhangyuan as they call themselves.

      • by Sinbios (852437)
        I think the point was because when we write about Rome, we don't write "Roma" (Rome), and therefore we shouldn't write "yuhangyuan" (astronaut) when we're writing about astronauts.
    • by necro81 (917438)
      When China first got into space flight, their pilots were referred to as taikonauts ("taiko" meaning "space" in Chinese I presume) by Western media. What happened to that?
    • let the politicians do the naming and drum-beating. scientists have more important things to do, like making sure they dont turn their first spacewalker into a floating corpse-cicle.
    • by hashax (1190057)
      Well, the first 'space-man' was a cosmonaut, so by the 'i-was-there-first' rule all spacemen should now be called Cosmonauts. As an aside, both names are derived from Greek, somewhat embarassing given they were coined to assume national identities. On a further note, in all Chinese documentation written in English, 'astronaut' is used, while cosmonaut is used in chinese documentation written in Russian. Taikonaut was invented by the US media to distinguish Chinese astronauts. And on another topic, Frenc
    • by barzok (26681) on Monday September 08, 2008 @10:04AM (#24919259)

      As NASA has defined it, only US space-going individuals may claim the title "astronaut." Further, they cannot be civilians, at least according to an article in the latest Wired.

      Aside from surviving the trip, Garriott has one more wish--to earn the title of astronaut. As a gamer, he cares deeply about the difference between character classes--whether a ninja, merchant, or citizen spaceman. But the moniker he has dreamed of all his life is not coming easily. NASA has strict rules about how it titles its explorers, and Garriott cannot qualify, no matter what he does, because he's a private citizen. Instead of an astronaut, they'll call him a space flight participant.

      http://www.wired.com/techbiz/people/magazine/16-09/ff_starcity?currentPage=6 [wired.com]

      • by AJWM (19027)

        Well, NASA can go fork themselves as far as that goes, but I'll allow as how being a passenger is a little different from being crew. We don't call the folks in the back of commercial airplanes "aeronauts", do we? (Okay, we don't call the pilots that either these days.)

        Comes to that, though, they shouldn't call their payload specialists astronauts either. (Personally I don't really think the term should be applied to anyone who isn't exploring space (or testing new space vehicles) -- which means it shou

      • As NASA has defined it, only US space-going individuals may claim the title "astronaut."

        Well if that's the case, then I guess Canada must have a serious foreign policy spat on the horizon: http://www.google.com/search?q=canadian+astronaut [google.com]

        And the ESA

        http://www.google.com/search?q=esa+astronaut [google.com]

        In fact, the NASA mission summary for STS-124 refers to "Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Akihiko Hoshide": http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/shuttle/shuttlemissions/sts124/main/index.html [nasa.gov]

        - RG>

    • by jimdread (1089853)

      Why does the media use foreign names for astronauts from other countries? We've got cosmonaut and now "yuhangyuan"? That's ridiculous. Is "astronaut" somehow reserved for only US spacefarers?

      You're right! We should all use the same word. The first person in space [wikipedia.org] was Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin. Of course you will agree that since we all want to use the same word, and that cosmonauts were first, we should call all spacefarers by the original name: cosmonauts. Right?

    • Or you call it Taikonaut

      http://www.taikonaut.com/index_en.html [taikonaut.com]

    • by FooGoo (98336)

      On another note, if the astronauts don't leave the confines of their ship, and merely evacuate all the air, is that really a "space walk"?

      No, it's called a chinese fire drill...

    • by dafing (753481)
      I cant believe how insensitive you are to the rest of the world.

      I do agree with you about the space walk comment, really, if that is what it is, then its more of a vacuum test.

  • by Dystopian Rebel (714995) * on Monday September 08, 2008 @08:57AM (#24918519) Journal

    If I were the yuhangyuan on the tether, I'd be yelling "You Hang You On!" like crazy!

    Joy luck, gentlemen.

  • by halcyon1234 (834388) <halcyon1234@hotmail.com> on Monday September 08, 2008 @09:02AM (#24918569) Journal

    It is unclear why China has opted for two different types of spacesuit.

    Because the first type of suit doesn't come in child sizes

  • Bizarre (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    America was one of the great nations in the space race. But we are about to be grounded. Again. This time, for 5 years. Why? Because Bush would not allow either NASA OR the airforce to complete the X-33. It sat in a hanger for 6 years and only last year was dismantled. The air force kept asking and cheney said no. Sad that Sick politics is what has grounded America. Even now, We could be up there in 2 years, by having congress and NASA authorize COTS-D as well as have NASA consider alternatives such as Dire
  • Wait... a Chinese guy will be wearing a "Made in Russia" suit?

    Man, it's the first time someone will be a live embodiment of an inverted "Soviet Russia" joke.

  • When I try to pronounce 'yuhangyuan' it sounds like "You Hang On". I've got a bad feeling about this....
  • When China starts exploring space and developing new technology for it (not just retracing the USA's pioneering steps), will China publish as much of its results for free consumption by the rest of the world as the USA has? Did Russia ever publish as much as the USA has?

    Or will the capitalists just freely subsidize the (ex/) Communists' space industries without getting as much back?

  • by peter303 (12292) on Monday September 08, 2008 @10:27AM (#24919597)
    59th Anniversary of the founding of The Peoples Republic of China Oct 1, 1949. (If weather holds and no saftey glitches.) Originally they were considering tying this into the Olympics, but decided to spread 2008 events out.
  • We used to call ships that sailed on water "Sailing Ships" and then when we moved to space we now call them "space ships"

    The Chinese term for sailing vessel is "Junk" so does that mean they are going to contribute to the whole "Space Junk" problem, by sending out more pieces of Space Junk?

  • Spacewalk postponed (Score:4, Informative)

    by Bobb Sledd (307434) on Monday September 08, 2008 @11:55AM (#24920717) Homepage

    I heard they had to postpone the spacewalk until they found new astronauts... Turns out the ones they already had qualified were under-aged. :-)

  • China does not supply spacesuits, so only REALLY bad people go into space.

  • by CDMan (247297)

    Oh, come one... no one sees the humor in this???

    "yuhangyuan (astronaut)"

    No doubt pronounced 'You-hang-on'... Funny, but redundant, if you ask me.

Nothing succeeds like success. -- Alexandre Dumas

Working...