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China Space Science

China Completes First Space Docking Test 106

Posted by samzenpus
from the you-got-craft-in-my-lab dept.
MrSeb writes "China has joined two space vehicles together in orbit for the first time. The unmanned Shenzhou 8 craft, launched earlier this week, made contact with the Tiangong-1 space lab at 1729 GMT. The union occurred over China itself. Being able to dock two space vehicles together is a necessary capability for China if it wants to start building a space station towards the end of the decade."
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China Completes First Space Docking Test

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  • by ackthpt (218170) on Thursday November 03, 2011 @01:49PM (#37937716) Homepage Journal

    China's certainly moving at a brisk pace. I expect they learned as much as they could from the US and Russia and are throwing their full weight behind it.

    Best of luck to them, but please be honest with your setbacks (you will have them) rather than attempt to snow the world media with tales of a program which makes no mistakes at all, ever.

    • by EdZ (755139)
      Fast? They're already nearly a year late! The Leonov would beat them by miles even without a refueling stop at Europa.
    • by 0123456 (636235) on Thursday November 03, 2011 @02:14PM (#37938098)

      China's certainly moving at a brisk pace.

      NASA:

      First manned flight: 1962
      First orbital rendevouz: 1965
      First orbital docking: 1966

      China:

      First manned flight: 2003
      First orbital docking: 2011

      I'd say more 'glacial' than 'brisk'

      • by damburger (981828)

        A little unfair. Tiangong 1 is quite a bit more sophisticated than the Agena Target Vehicle, and Shenzhou 8 can perform an automated docking whilst Gemini could not.

        In any case, what is the rush?

        • by khallow (566160)

          A little unfair. Tiangong 1 is quite a bit more sophisticated than the Agena Target Vehicle, and Shenzhou 8 can perform an automated docking whilst Gemini could not.

          I agree with the original poster. Especially when you note that the first US person on the Moon came three years after the first US docking. Russia was similarly aggressive.

          In any case, what is the rush?

          Everything has time value. All else being equal, it's worth more doing something today than putting it off. You are right that China is not in a rush, but that's because they're treating the manned program currently as pure propaganda.

          • by Rik Rohl (1399705)

            but that's because they're treating the manned program currently as pure propaganda.

            What do you think the entire race to the moon was?

            • by khallow (566160)
              I suppose it was, but more like pyramid-building. That is, making something that would be talked about for generations, not merely used as an indication that the US could play in the space game.
      • by isorox (205688)

        China's certainly moving at a brisk pace.

        NASA:

        First manned flight: 1962
        First orbital rendevouz: 1965
        First orbital docking: 1966

        Last manned flight 2011

        • by Morty (32057)

          China's certainly moving at a brisk pace.

          NASA:

          First manned flight: 1962
          First orbital rendevouz: 1965
          First orbital docking: 1966

          Last manned flight 2011

          Most recent manned flight: 2011
          Next planned manned flight: 2014

          SpaceX says they'll be ready to launch people to LEO in 2014. So far they've hit their schedule targets.

          • SpaceX says they'll be ready to launch people to LEO in 2014. So far they've hit their schedule targets.

            Part of me hates to go off topic, and part of me hates to argue when your basic point is correct, but the pedant in me wins.

            COTS was supposed to be done in 2010 so that CRS could start in 2011 (before the Shuttle retired), and as it stands we're looking at that being all pushed back a year. That's close enough for aerospace work, but not exactly on target. Not to mention that NASA isn't planning to have a crewed flight until 2016 (not because the vehicles couldn't be ready, but because that's how long NAS

            • It's NASA that's holding up the COTS demo flights, not SpaceX. NASA is insisting on having two trained astronauts on board the ISS for the SpaceX demo. One is on board now, and one is grounded due to the Soyuz mishap. SpaceX is fine with having only one trained astronaut guiding things.
              • It's not NASA's fault that SpaceX didn't launch in 2010. I'll grant that the last 3 months of the delay is caused by the Soyuz failure, but it's not like they were going to be on time anyway; if they were, it would be the second CRS flight being delayed. They compare favorably to e.g. Constellation (even before it was cancelled), but launching rockets is still a hard business and timelines need a bunch of salt to be palatable.

      • NASA did the first docking 4 years after the first flight because they were racing for the moon. We've already gotten to the moon, and so China doesn't need to race. Instead, they can go slower and more thoughtfully (and had we done that, arguably Apollo 1 would never have happened) and end up with something stronger at the end (unlike us, who ended up going to the moon 6 times and then pretty much giving up on space advancement beyond an LEO pickup truck).

        • by khallow (566160)

          (and had we done that, arguably Apollo 1 would never have happened)

          Apollo probably wouldn't have happened at all. Not that that's a bad thing...

          But I don't see that we would have had less accidents per launch. One of the things you buy with high launch frequency is knowledge of how your vehicle works.

          • Apollo 1 was largely the result of rushing into the program without being willing to eliminate problems. The original Apollo capsules were poorly designed, poorly assembled death traps. In addition to the emergency hatch that took too long to open, the lax assembly methods set up the spark that ignited the fire in the first place. And running on 100% oxygen was a pretty obvious mistake as well.

            You don't need any launches to figure out that careless assembly, an impossible-to-open-quickly emergency door, an

            • by khallow (566160)

              You don't need any launches to figure out that careless assembly, an impossible-to-open-quickly emergency door, and running 100% fire fuel as your atmosphere invites disaster. This, of course, is proven by the fact that there had been no Apollo launches before 1, and the post-1 redesign happened before any further Apollos were launched.

              That's nice but irrelevant to my point. A more deliberate pace might have prevented the Apollo 1 fire and deaths of three astronauts, or it might not (recall please that if a point is "arguable" then automatically that means its negation is also "arguable"). But it would have opened up a variety of operational risks that don't exist with higher launch frequency.

              The most complete test of a system is an "all up" test where you use all the systems of the vehicle (including testing the launch procedures on t

              • I'm still not sure why you think it's more safe to launch in rapid succession, especially in the early phases of a given program.

                As I said, the "hurry up and launch!" attitude was the direct cause of Apollo 1. You could have launched 20 Apollos and never run across the Apollo 1 problems. They only figured out (by which I mean "finally agreed with the astronauts") that the door was a death trap when opening the door quickly was actually needed. If you launch 20 missions that never have an emergency, you don'

                • by khallow (566160)
                  Sorry about the late reply. The thing here is that rushing through something is not the same as high launch frequency. Apollo took a lot of chances and got lucky with only one significant accident involving astronauts (There may have been plenty of others behind the scenes involving normal workers. Those aren't high profile.) I didn't claim that moving untried things to "all up" testing was a god idea, but rather that one gets a lot of all up testing with a high launch frequency.

                  In my view, a sensible pr
                  • I see where you're coming from, but it seems to me that China would still be in the testing phase at this point. They didn't exactly get started in space at the same time the US and USSR did.

                    I get the idea that a lot of changes can be made in a couple of years, but that doesn't mean the changes have to go into the spacecraft. The shuttle ran on computers that were outdated at the time of install, but they did it that way because those computers were proven. Even when they got a computer upgrade later in lif

      • by jandersen (462034)

        I'd say more 'glacial' than 'brisk'

        Ah, but glacier kan suddenly move fast sometimes, and then it is time to step aside. And China have been putting on speed steadily, whereas America's achievements have slowed down in the recent how many decades?

      • by cobbaut (232092)

        If I recall correctly, then the first American *automated* docking was in 1976. 14 years after the first American man in space.
        Overall I get the impression China is working long term, steadily going forward, not racing to plant a flag, but building to stay.

  • an orbital weapons platform leading to a new cold war. Six of one, half-dozen of the other...
    • I'm not worried. Every super power has ICBM capability anyways. Unless you want to get creative with nukes, what's the point? Last man standing (in space)? For how long?

      • Space based kinetic weapon platforms are the next logical step in the arms race. Relatively cheap to build, all the required technology already exists, immune to any existing anti-missile technology, and can deliver all the destructive power of a nuke with none of the radioactive fallout to deal with. Add the X-37B launch vehicle into the mix and you have the means neutralize your opponents orbital assets and claim the ultimate high ground.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 03, 2011 @02:00PM (#37937902)
    Yes, few seem to realize that China's Space program is a miltiary only. They are more military than was USSR's
    • If you mean that every launch they make has a direct military goal, then that is obviously false.

      If you mean that their space program is tightly integrated with military, and that the final goals are primary military (and research is done in addition to that where possible), then it's true, but it was equally true for both USSR and US at the height of the Space Race.

    • by couchslug (175151)

      I'm willing to cede Asia to China.

      The idea that the US should build a military-industrial complex to defend people who REFUSE to match our level of effort is absurd, doubly so when both sides are our economic competition and do nothing for the US.

    • Please mod this parent down. Of all books, news, and visits to China, I have never heard of China's space program being military only. The only thing that is military in CASA is when CASA, like NASA and USSR's space programs, picked the best air force pilots for manned missions. It is a normal activity, not a military activity. So, click your heels and salute!
  • by Anonymous Coward

    To be honest with you guys, the U.S. won't be able to seriously compete with China in the next-gen space race, at least not with the current generation of engineers and manufacturing capacity. Many senior professors in my University expressed this concern long time ago: the smartest American kids are not into STEM anymore, they just following the trashy reality shows and wanna get some quick money without hard working. NASA is in great trouble recruiting new scients/engineers who know how to operate the o

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I was born and raised in the US and been having this discussion for years. Ironically with many of those potential engineering students.

      You know what? Those of us who aren't just sitting around our cheap apartments or parents basements decided against going into engineering and went for the high-profit jobs, mostly in software and/or communications industries. Great for the pay but lousy for the advancement of humanity. Additionally most stopped being free thinkers as they found cliques they'd like to be a

      • manufacturing is just part of space and let's face it mars is long term or one way type of trip right now. And going past it? any one working on wrap drives?

        • by Matheus (586080)

          A wrap drive would be pretty cool... you wrap the universe around yourself and then everywhere is only a step away.

          Brilliant!

      • by NFN_NLN (633283)

        Great for the pay but lousy for the advancement of humanity. Additionally most stopped being free thinkers as they found cliques they'd like to be a part of, and slowly faded into irrelevance.

        Maybe it's different elsewhere, but it seems like a disturbing downward trend to me.

        Not everyone has the dedication and discipline for purely altruistic endeavors such as.. trolling the internet and posting flamebait, but kudos to you.

    • by amliebsch (724858)

      On the other hand, intelligent people are betting lots of their own money that you are wrong:

      Why the U.S. Can Beat China: The Facts About SpaceX Costs [spacex.com], Elon Musk

    • by couchslug (175151)

      China spends and humanity benefits in the end, as with the US space effort.

      I've heard tale of countries without large military-industrial complexes and which don't participate in any "space race" which are pleasant to live in.

      Can anyone else verify?

    • by tsotha (720379)

      To be honest with you guys, the U.S. won't be able to seriously compete with China in the next-gen space race

      Uh huh. Maybe you can explain what we would be racing to. Mars? Are we going to spend a few trillion dollars to plant a flag on Mars? Why?

      The problem is outside of things we already do pretty well (spy sats, communications) and the odd science mission there isn't a hell of a lot to do up there. I mean, something that makes sense to do from an economic standpoint. I'm all for making sure we s

      • by Ice Tiger (10883)

        With even small asteroids containing roughly 20 trillion dollars worth of industrial and precious metals [wikipedia.org] there is nothing that makes going into space valuable from an economic standpoint?

        I suspect the first nation that successfully exploits space economically will basically get catapulted to premier world status simply by the competitive advantage that such disruptive technology would bring.

        • Part of what makes the metals precious is their rarity. What do you think will happen to the price if you suddenly doubled the supply? That's right. That $20 trillion dollar asteroid plummets in worth. Besides, it would take trillions of dollars to build the infrastructure needed to extract those metals.
        • by tsotha (720379)

          I think your estimation of the costs here is a few orders of magnitude too low. Mining space asteroids just isn't economical and never will be, unless the goal is to use the materials for construction in space. But then we're back to the question of what we intend to do there. It doesn't make sense to mine asteroids so we can build a habitat so we can mine asteroids unless the end result is cheaper minerals back on earth. But there isn't any material worth that kind of expense,

          Why don't we mine the 3/4

  • by G3ckoG33k (647276) on Thursday November 03, 2011 @02:30PM (#37938330)

    An old Chinese proverb - don't talk, act.

    Like it used to be, here and there.

    (No, it wasn't an old Chinese proverb, but it could have been)

  • First headline: China completes docking test
    Second headline: Watch the fiery re-entry
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Don't worry. It was all faked on a sound stage in Bollywood. ;-)

  • Congrats! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by T-Mckenney (2008418) on Thursday November 03, 2011 @03:53PM (#37939598)
    Instead of playing who has the bigger cock here (I'm looking at you America, Russia, ESA). Lets congratulate another country making its way into space, opening the way for human expansion to the cosmos. We need to get over this "my country has a bigger cock than yours" or "the USA is doomed because China is now in space" and start concentrating on collaboration as a species. Congrats, China! Welcome to the club. -T
    • by Clsid (564627)

      Best comment ever!

    • by thej1nx (763573)
      Collaboration as a species only works if the other portion of the said species is also interested in such a collaboration.

      What you need to be asking is, is this a friendly nation? or is it a rival? And if latter, then will you be comfortable if the rival supersedes you at some point, or has an equal military technology/might? Last I checked, this situation did not sit so well between USA and USSR. And China happens be yet another semi-communist/fascist country, if I am not wrong.
    • If comparing themselves to others makes them actually *do* something, then I'm all for it. A lot of US research/exploration in the past was to beat Russia, so perhaps progress from China will spur others to invest in some more research of their own.

  • Well that's kind of strange. I've seen headlines describing the advent of sex in space before but this is two guys doing it to each other? Not that there's anything wrong with that I mean...
    • by Rob Nance (645531)

      Well that's kind of strange. I've seen headlines describing the advent of sex in space before but this is two guys doing it to each other? Not that there's anything wrong with that I mean...

      This would have been funnier if you had actually used the term correctly (hint: it's not two dudes).

  • Congratulations...your military space station now has 113 anti satellite missiles now targeted at it China....welcome to the space race. Play nice. Remember, no one can hear you scream in space.
  • If I understand correctly, the Russians, Americans, Japanese, and several other nations agreed a long time ago on a common docking mechanism so that everyone's vehicles could dock with each other. This is a major advantage for international cooperation. Since so many nations use the same system, I assume that this is not a top secret design. Did the Chinese use the same mechanism, or are they standard a new competing-standards problem? I hope not the latter. It would really suck for all future space ve

  • http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=space-docking [urbandictionary.com] Might have gone with different wording on that headline if I were you.

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