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China ISS Space Science Technology

China Launches Space Station Laboratory Module 178

Posted by timothy
from the all-space-stations-must-charge-with-micro-usb dept.
wisebabo writes with news from CNN that "China's first space laboratory module launched Thursday, according to state-run media, an important milestone in China's plan to build a space station." The module, known as Tiangong-1, features sleeping areas and exercise equipment. Writes wisebabo: "In another universe (Arthur C. Clarke's 2011), it would be on its way to Europa by now. Anyone know what orbital plane/altitude it's at? Can it be reached by NASA/Soyuz? Are the docking ports compatible? How about the air pressure/breathing mix?"
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China Launches Space Station Laboratory Module

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  • by acidradio (659704) on Thursday September 29, 2011 @01:51PM (#37556424)

    Will they make sneering faces at each other? Rude hand gestures? Will they "haze" the other space station? Teepee their solar collectors in the night? Will the ISS astronauts pop in from time to time to borrow a cup of sugar? Host a friendly neighborhood barbecue?

    • by Vectormatic (1759674) on Thursday September 29, 2011 @03:32PM (#37558038)

      Have you learned nothing from how chinese immigrants behave in other countries? Now the guys up in the ISS finally can have cheap take-out and dry-cleaning!

  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Thursday September 29, 2011 @01:53PM (#37556446)

    "In another universe (Arthur C. Clarke's 2011), it would be on its way to Europa by now.

    Clarke naively believed NASA and the U.S. government when they said that the space race WASN'T just a Cold War pissing contest. He never figured in the possibility that once the U.S. had the capability to plant the Stars and Stripes on the moon that funding would be slashed.

    • by Kuruk (631552)
      <quote>

      <quote><p>"In another universe (Arthur C. Clarke's 2011), it would be on its way to Europa by now.</p></quote>

      <p>Clarke naively believed NASA and the U.S. government when they said that the space race WASN'T just a Cold War pissing contest. He never figured in the possibility that once the U.S. had the capability to plant the Stars and Stripes on the moon that funding would be slashed.</p></quote>

      All the better. Bring on a new pissing contest. Good on C
    • military equipment (Score:3, Informative)

      by G3ckoG33k (647276)

      A few years ago the funding would have come as soon as China would start adding their military equipment there, too. Ironically, however, now China will just pull the financial rug under the US, or just squeeze those hairy a bit harder.

      • This is as tired of an argument as "they hate us for our freedom."

        What China and the US have is the economic version of mutually-assured destruction.

        China will be pulling no rug out from under the US. They're as fucked as we are.

        • by Dunbal (464142) *

          They're as fucked as we are.

          Why? They have all of Latin America, India and Africa to sell to. It doesn't take long for those countries to catch up the US when economic growth in the US is virtually nil. The US by no means has the largest population in the world, so its economic importance can only shrink over time as others grow. Haven't you noticed how China has been very active signing trade agreements all over South and Central America lately? And with none of those bullshit "sign here but also you have to change your laws to match

          • Because they pin their currency to ours?

            We've asked them not to, it kind of buggers up trade over here. But it keeps their workers undercutting ours, and China is riding the gravy train of manufacturing, so they're sticking with it. So even when our currency takes a hit and looks like a terrible investment, China still buys up our debt. Because if our dollar really tanks, theirs will too.

            Eventually they'll have to unpin it. Their currency will then suffer some massive fluctuation as it corrects itself
    • by doconnor (134648)

      In Arthur C. Clarke's 2010 (not 2011), which was written before the cold war ended, the cold war was still going on into 2010 and they where still pissing away.

      • by tgd (2822)

        Exactly. Part of the point of the story was the fact that the situation around Jupiter led to some (tense, somewhat hostile) partnerships between the US and the USSR.

        In the book there was a three-way cold war between USSR, China and the US.

    • by cornface (900179)

      In most of the sci-fi featuring near-future space travel in the era before we actually went to space it was rare to find an author who even considered that it would be a government monopoly that got us there.

      • by damburger (981828)

        And, bizarrely, this mistake is repeated by modern libertarian/neoliberal space advocates, who are certain that SpaceX and Bigelow can beat the Chinese without any government help at all. This is nothing but fantasy.

    • by Wyatt Earp (1029)

      Funding was slashed in 1968-'72 because of the increasing cost of the Vietnam War and costs of implementing LBJ's Great Society program. The Democratic Senators who had the power to cut NASA (like Mondale), went out of their way to go after it's funding for the Great Society programs. By the time Nixon took the White House, he ramped up Vietnam to force the North to the peace talks (which worked by late 1972) and the Democrats hated him, so there was very little he could push.

      We are lucky Congress didn't cl

  • by LordNacho (1909280) on Thursday September 29, 2011 @01:54PM (#37556476)

    The Chinese seem willing to spend the money on space tech. Someones gotta carry the flag. Unbelievable how long it's been since people were walking the moon.

    • Re:Good for them (Score:5, Insightful)

      by denis-The-menace (471988) on Thursday September 29, 2011 @02:02PM (#37556630)

      The states had the money, too.
      But they just spent it on more important things:
      -Liberating oil in Irak.
      -Molesting the terrorists out of our shorts.
      -Covering rich people for bad bets in the stock market

      • by Danathar (267989)

        No. The U.S. Federal Government had the money too, not the "States". There is a difference.

      • by IrquiM (471313)
        Actually, the first two issues you raise doesn't cost that much - it's by far the last one that is creating the problems for US.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Bardwick (696376)
      It's actually free. Just using interest on all the money that they've loaned out.. So hey, why not? heh.
    • by Wyatt Earp (1029)

      There is a historical precedence for going somewhere and then not going back for a while.

      The first English colony in North America was established in 1585 at Roanoke, a second voyage there in 1590 found it missing, there was not an attempt by the English to colonize North America again until 1607. And going to North America from western Europe was much, much easier than going from the Earth to the Moon.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roanoke_Colony [wikipedia.org]
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_the_colonization_of_No [wikipedia.org]

      • I suppose that makes sense. Pioneering journeys can be expensive.

      • Actually, the Vikings [wikimedia.org] predated the English by quite a bit (6 centuries), but yes, economic colonization often takes decades to centuries.

      • by tragedy (27079)

        So, no second attempt for 17 years. Whereas no-one has been to the moon in nearly 39 years and it looks like even if someone sat down and planned out and funded a mission tomorrow, it would still take a decade to actually happen. So, best case scenario is looking like 50 years from the last Apollo mission to the next moon landing.

    • by damburger (981828)

      Not Really

      As a % of nominal GDP, China spends about the same as most ESA member states (0.02% by my calculation) compared to the real big players USA (0.13%) and Russia (0.26%)

      Don't ask me for a reference. I literally just worked this out myself from numbers off wikipedia (which are themselves well referenced enough). If you are skeptical, just repeat the calculation.

      China isn't especially focused on space travel, or manned space travel - its just a big economy, and its found a way to do manned spaceflight

      • It's big and getting bigger, so you can see why I'm hopeful. Plus they seem to like the international spotlight (olympic games were huge for them), so perhaps they'll keep spending on space.

        With the US, you just get the feeling people are tired of science. You don't the sense of wonderment about the world. Science seems to be a declining form of entertainment. All simply a vibe I'm getting, of course, nothing I can document.

    • The Chinese seem willing to spend just enough money on space tech to impress the impressionable.

      There, fixed that for you.

      Seriously, most of the posters on Slashdot are worse than the worst Tea Partiers when it comes to exaggerating facts and events in order to work themselves up into a panic. The fact is, China has just enough of a space program to show the world that they are a Serious Nation and a World Player - and not a Yuan's worth more. They aren't going to the Moon anytime soon, and at the

  • by hackingbear (988354) on Thursday September 29, 2011 @01:58PM (#37556544)

    Are the docking ports compatible?

    I read many years ago on Chinese media (can't find the source anymore) when they first launched Shenzhou that the docking port is imported from Russia for the explicit goal of compatibility with other vehicles as the Russian design is now the de factor standard.

    • Are the docking ports compatible?

      I read many years ago on Chinese media (can't find the source anymore) when they first launched Shenzhou that the docking port is imported from Russia for the explicit goal of compatibility with other vehicles as the Russian design is now the de factor standard.

      Yes. Same one as on the Shuttle and ISS [wikimedia.org].

    • There are several standards right now:
      - Russia and Europe (Soyuz, Progress, and ATV) use SSVP, which is high impact so I can see why the Chinese avoided it.
      - The Shuttle used APAS, which is what the Chinese are using to be compatible with ISS. (Originally developed for Soyuz-Apollo, so the Russians have it, but aren't using it.)
      - The Japanese HTV and current US vehicles (Dragon, Cygnus) don't dock, they berth on the CBMs
      - Commercial Crew will use ILIDS which is compatible with the actual standard, the Inter

  • Orbit (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Skylax (1129403) on Thursday September 29, 2011 @02:01PM (#37556602)
    From my chinese coworkers I got the information that the module is currently in a 350km by 200km orbit at around 45 inclination.The finished station will consist of 3 modules at 20t each and has a designed lifetime of 2 years. It is basically used for testing purposes (docking procedures etc.) and will be manned by a 2-3 man crew with 20 day rotation.
    • Re:Orbit (Score:5, Interesting)

      by ZankerH (1401751) on Thursday September 29, 2011 @02:14PM (#37556794)
      Actually, you've got two different programs mixed up. The Tiangong-1 (the one launched today) will not form a part of the larger space station, and the 2 years lifetime only refers to this experimental module. Also, the Tiangong-1 will first be visited by the unmanned Shenzhou 8 spacecraft (to launch this november), followed by two manned Shenzhou expeditions in 2012. They're only planning to built the 60 ton space station by 2020.
    • by X0563511 (793323)

      Helpful, but can you get us the Kepler elements?

  • China has begun its own effort to construct a space station that will one day look like this....exactly like this.

    http://nationalspacestudiescenter.files.wordpress.com/2010/08/space-station-iss.jpg [wordpress.com]

  • by subreality (157447) on Thursday September 29, 2011 @02:06PM (#37556672)

    Can it be reached by NASA

    Unfortunately, no. NASA doesn't currently have a man-rated vehicle that can exceed about 60,000 feet.

    The DOD can probably deliver a decent size payload to it, but their craft aren't exactly designed to dock in a diplomatic way.

    • Slashdot needs a "Sad but true" moderation option. :/

  • by pesho (843750) on Thursday September 29, 2011 @02:22PM (#37556906)
    The schematic kind of reminds me of the old Russian Salyut station [wikipedia.org]
    • by Mercano (826132)

      Wouldn't be the first time the Chinese have borrowed space technology from the Russians; the Shenzhou spacecraft is awfully similar to Soyuz. On the other hand, physics are physics, regardless of what country your in, so and there really are only a few useful hull configurations. No one is surprised when a fighter jet looks like externally similar to a Russian or American one.

      By the way, the Salyut design is still alive and well. Zvezda, the ISS service module, is a direct decedent. Salyut 6, which you

    • Its dimensions are somewhere between Progress [wikipedia.org] and Salyut, which makes sense given that it's currently being used like Salyut as a testbed, but will eventually be used like Progress as a resupply craft for a larger station.

  • ...thinking of the Chinese space station in World War Z?

  • On the one hand, they have launched a nice space station.
    At the same time, they are gearing up to attack Vietnam and the phillipines, and warning India to steer clear of Others properties that China wants.

    Here the party demands war [washingtontimes.com] and here they warn india to steer clear or be attacked as well [the-diplomat.com]

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