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Space Earth Science

China To Snap 4 Space Ships Into a Station 340

hackingbear writes "According to a report by Hong Kong newspaper Mingpao Daily (poor Google translation), quoting the Director of Jiuquan Launch Center, China is set to build a space station by snapping together four spaceships (Shenzhou 7, 8, 9, and 10), to be launched sequentially. Though other reports indicates that taikonauts abroad SZ 7 will return to Earth on September 28, the official said the ship will remain in the orbit to be docked with unmanned Shenzhou 8 and 9. Finally, the manned spaceship Shenzhou 10 will be launched and dock with the other three, completing the space station." A story at Space.com also briefly mentions Shenzhous 8 and 9 (with no mention of number 10), and adds that China has selected its first spacewalker.
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China To Snap 4 Space Ships Into a Station

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  • by damburger ( 981828 ) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @11:30AM (#25039659)

    One feature of the Shenzhou capsule is that the orbit module (which detaches from the reentry module before reentry) can stay in function as a separate spacecraft.

    Thus part of Shenzhou 7 will stay in space to form part of the station, and part of it will return the men home.

  • Re:but I thought??? (Score:3, Informative)

    by damburger ( 981828 ) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @11:31AM (#25039671)
    They don't. They wanted to, and given that the shuttle replacement is falling behind schedule and relations with Russia are putting access to Soyuz in jeopardy, having an alternative means of getting there would be great. Pity the west had to be petty about it.
  • by philpalm ( 952191 ) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @11:32AM (#25039683)
    Sky lab was hurried to put together and the only tragedy was that they couldn't keep it in orbit. I suppose the Chinese attempt will also end in falling from space if they can't figure out how to refuel it and keep it higher in orbit.
  • Re:but I thought??? (Score:5, Informative)

    by jmichaelg ( 148257 ) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @11:45AM (#25039877) Journal

    Tibet? Tibet was peanuts. Ditto Iraq.

      If we're talking deaths, let's talk about "the great leap forward" or the "cultural revolution." Now we're in the big leagues.

  • by damburger ( 981828 ) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @11:57AM (#25040047)
    Shenzhou is NOT a 'modernized Soyuz' - it has a similar appearance to Soyuz simply because of the practicalities of building a spacecraft, but don't try and imply the Chinese do not have an indigenous spaceflight capability.
  • by MightyYar ( 622222 ) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @11:59AM (#25040085)

    China is spending millions on space suits and America is spending millions on bailing out big corporations. Strange how that works, huh?

    Full circle... from Wikipedia:
    "AIG's history dates back to 1919, when Cornelius Vander Starr established an insurance agency in Shanghai, China."

  • Mir then (Score:3, Informative)

    by roman_mir ( 125474 ) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @12:00PM (#25040107) Homepage Journal

    So they are after their own Mir station, so what? USSR has done that on multiple occasions (put together space capsules into some sort of a space station configuration.) It's just good engineering, but in this case it is not surprising at all, considering that Chinese space industry is sort of regurgitation Russian space industry.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @12:06PM (#25040183)
    "Cosmonaut" is not a Russian word, it's the direct English translation of the Russian "kosmonávt".
  • Proper translation (Score:5, Informative)

    by gzipped_tar ( 1151931 ) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @12:07PM (#25040197) Journal

    I know this is Slashdot, but here T properly translated FA. Contents inside [] are mine.

    Bad article (it's tautology -- blame the writer) and bad translation (blame me).

    Space Lab Planned after Shenzhou-X Launch

    Mr. Cui Ji-Jun, director of Jiuquan Space Launch Center, today told the media that the Shenzhou-VIII and -IX spaceships, which are scheduled after this year's manned Shenzhou-VII unit, will both be unmanned. The tenth of the series will again send astronauts into space and snap with an orbiting target. After that, work will be done to construct a space-based laboratory.

    According to the Qilu Evening [a Shandon-based newspaper], Mr. Cui said the featured task of Shenzhou-VII will be a spacewalk. Three astronauts will be aboard: one will take the walk out of the ship, another one will assist him in the orbiting unit (of Shenzhou-VII), and the third in the return unit. Cui also explained the reason behind the decision of launching the spaceship at night. [However the news fails to tell what it is:(]

    Shenzhou-VIII and -IX, Unmanned

    Cui said after Shenzhou-VII gets launched, a Target unit will be sent to space, and later the VIII to X units. Shenzhou-VIII, unmanned, will go after the Target unit and join with it. The IX unit will do the same. Shenzhou-X, piloted by astronauts, will also join with the Target. After this is done, the first task will be the making of a space lab.

  • by c6gunner ( 950153 ) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @12:22PM (#25040463)

    I'm mostly basing my assertion on the fact that right now China is swimming in money,

    China GDP: $10.17 trillion
    US GDP: $13.13 trillion
    China Population: 1,321,851,888
    US Population: 301,139,947

    I guess if by "swimming in money" you mean "less than one quarter US GDP per capita", then yeah, they sure are!

    productive industrial capacity

    Man, I've seen the crash tests [youtube.com] of their new "car". You know it's bad when the technicians are laughing in the background. They might have industrial capacity to spare but that means nothing when their products are crap, so they certainly don't have productive industrial capacity to spare.

    national ambition

    That bit I can't argue with. They should be annexing Taiwan any day now, and then turning their ambition on the rest of asia.

  • by clone53421 ( 1310749 ) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @12:36PM (#25040669) Journal

    "Transliteration" [merriam-webster.com] is not the same as "Translation" [merriam-webster.com].

    Oh, and it's more like KOCMOHaBT.

  • by Nazlfrag ( 1035012 ) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @12:37PM (#25040695) Journal

    You may be jesting, I'm unsure, but the GP appears to be correct.

    The Shenzhou spacecraft appears similar to the Russian Soyuz, but is different in dimensions (slightly larger and heavier) and does not seem to use any detailed parts copied from the Soyuz or built under license. Therefore although it follows the classic layout of the Soyuz, adopts many of the same technical solutions, and the re-entry vehicle has the same shape, it cannot be considered strictly a 'copy'.

    www.astronautix.com [astronautix.com]

  • by J05H ( 5625 ) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @12:48PM (#25040865) Homepage

    you so obviously have not followed the development of China's manned spaceflight program and the Shen Zhou spacecraft.

    "After China and Russia signed a space cooperation agreement in 1996, the two countries carried out very fruitful cooperation in docking system installations, model spaceships, flight control, and means of life support and other areas of manned space flight. Russia's experience in space technology development was and is of momentous significance as enlightenment to China."


    As direct visual evidence, the Shen Zhou mold line is identical to Soyuz, uses APAS-89 and the spacesuits the crew wear are thread-for-thread copies of Russian "Sokol" suits. Even the toilet is in the same location. Shen Zhou uses modern, native systems and has advanced abilities (like leaving the OM on-orbit) but is definitely based on Soyuz.

    The implication is not that China lacks indigenous spaceflight but that they are smart enough to partner with organizations that bring technology to them.

  • Re:Finally! (Score:3, Informative)

    by OolimPhon ( 1120895 ) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @12:51PM (#25040915)
    This is exactly how Mir was built, and the first two segments of the ISS (the russian ones) were sent up and joined in that way too.
  • Re:No, No, No! (Score:3, Informative)

    by Traa ( 158207 ) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @12:51PM (#25040929) Homepage Journal

    risking my nerd licence, I believe it was from "2010: Odyssey Two" by the late Arthur C. Clark. The part of the book describing the Chinese mission of launching a small manned spaceship towards Jupiter without enough fuel to travel back is one of the most exciting passages from a sci-fi (mostly sci) book I have ever read. The main characters who are also heading that way in a larger and more traditional spacecraft figure that the Chinese ship will use the gravitational pull of Jupiter to slow down, then land on the moon Europa where they presume to refuel for the trip back. Not going to give up more due to spoilers for those not familiar with the story. Please read it.

  • Re:Voltron! (Score:5, Informative)

    by clone53421 ( 1310749 ) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @12:53PM (#25040945) Journal

    Heck, I got tagged "Informative" for pointing out that we aren't speaking Russian.

  • by Iloinen Lohikrme ( 880747 ) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @01:22PM (#25041457)

    Oh no, you are using PPP values! You! You! Gah! ...Why don't people learn!? You use GDP nominal, as in real money, to measure the economic power of different countries.

    With GDP nominal the figures are:

    • USA: 13,84 trillion
    • China: 3,25 trillion

    In real money terms China has the economic power equaling Germany that has GDP nominal of 3,32 trillion.

  • by theolein ( 316044 ) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @01:37PM (#25041769) Journal

    The linked article simply discusses China's gradual but steadily improving manned space programme. It says nothing about what the Chinese call their Astronauts, Tibet, Iraq, or about NASA or the shuttle. Why on earth do you people have to diss any nation that does anything positive be it Chinese, Indian, Russian or European?

    To me, it comes across as pure envy that someone else is doing things that you used to consider your own territory.

    There is nothing wrong with the American space programme and it has a long and proud tradition, and folks like the ones making the Falcon rocket look to be making space reachable by private people in the future.

    So why the pressing need to insult the Chinese?

  • Re:Taikonauts? (Score:2, Informative)

    by imkow ( 1021759 ) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @02:39PM (#25042861) Homepage
    let me help you. it's Yyu:-heung-yiuan
  • by Iloinen Lohikrme ( 880747 ) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @03:17PM (#25043399)

    Yes you would! :)

    PPP stands for Purchasing Power Parity. PPP relies on a theory that identical goods should have the same price. In PPP what you are looking is the exchange rates of different countries purchasing power. These exchange rates are calculated by in example building baskets of different goods, items, etc.. and calculating price differences between countries. In example if you have 500k dollars, in China you get a mansion, in USA you get a McMansion and in Europe you get a villa: you have differences on what your money can buy. Now these differences, exchange rates, are used to adjust GDP, meaning that the GDP of China goes up relatively much, the GDP of US gets up too and the GDP of Europe goes down. The weak point of PPP is that there just aren't identical goods in the real world: you have different regulations on different things in every country, different workers legislations, etc.. In principle PPP is a sound thing, but in practice it just is horrible approximation.

    Now, GDP nominal, is more or less the real money, the real value, that the economy is producing. GDP PPP tells more about the living standards of normal people, the GDP nominal tells the raw power of the economy as it is based on the actual value of production. When measuring the power of different countries, GDP nominal is the way to go.

  • Not quite true (Score:5, Informative)

    by iamlucky13 ( 795185 ) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @04:47PM (#25044853)
    Skylab actually spent several years in development and was intended to be used for a fairly long term. It was to be kept up by reboosts from the Apollo spacecraft that visited it, so it was possible to keep it in orbit. In fact, NASA was considering using the cancelled fourth manned visit to the station to primarily boost it high enough that it would stay in orbit until the shuttle's planned entry into service in 1979 (which ended up being two years late). However, the limitations of the station, compared to the capabilities of the shuttle (especially with a spacehab module in the payload bay), damage sustained during its launch, and the need for on-orbit maintenance led to those plans being cancelled.

    Initial design work on Skylab began in 1966, 7 years before it was launched, as part of the Apollo Applications Program. The original plan was to use the second stage of a Saturn-1B rocket, which was actually the same as the third stage of the Saturn V. Because of the smaller capacity of the Saturn 1B, it would be a fully fueled stage with access points added so the first crew could enter the empty stage in orbit and convert the interior, which only had minimal gear at the time of launch. This was called the "wet lab" configuration.

    The limitations and complexity of that approach led to a switch to the Saturn V, launching its converted third stage dry and much more fully outfitted (which they could now afford to do since it was full of cryogenic hydrogen and oxygen), including a large docking module at one end, plus all the necessary life-support gear. A large optical telescope was also attached. Three manned missions ultimately were conducted on board Skylab.

    The Chinese should be able to similarly reboost this mini space station and replenish consumables each time they visit. However, this will be a very small station. The total interior volume of four Shenzhou orbital modules is barely more than 10% of the interior volume of Skylab and about 1/3 the size of the Soviet Salyut stations. It will also have limited amounts of consumables and power. It won't afford them a lot of versatility.
  • by cozziewozzie ( 344246 ) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @05:44PM (#25045569)

    Actually, after Japan did it, Taiwan did the same, and they were also considered cheap crap in the beginning. Now they're considered high tech and produce first-class stuff.

    Then after Taiwan did it, Korea did it. People used to laugh at Goldstar and their crappy TVs. Then Goldstar changed name to LG and they're one of the market leaders.

    So yeah, it's possible that China will do the same, especially considering the pure volume they are producing and how much they're investing in engineering and education.

"my terminal is a lethal teaspoon." -- Patricia O Tuama