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China Moon

Chinese Spacecraft Enters Orbit Around the Moon 152

mpicpp sends this report from Scientific American: A Chinese spacecraft service module has entered orbit around the moon, months after being used in the country's landmark test flight that sent a prototype sample-return capsule on a flight around the moon and returned it to Earth. The service module from China's circumlunar test flight arrived in orbit around the moon this week, according to Chinese state media reports. The spacecraft is currently flying in an eight-hour orbit that carries it within 125 miles (200 kilometers) of the lunar surface at its closest point, and out to a range of 3,293 miles (5,300 km) at its highest point. Earlier reports noted that a camera system is onboard the service module, designed to assist in identifying future landing spots for the Chang'e 5 mission that will return lunar samples back to Earth in the 2017 time frame. Reader schwit1 adds a detailed report on Russia's next-gen space station module, writing, "The Russians have always understood that a space station is nothing more than a prototype of an interplanetary spaceship. They are therefore simply carrying through with the same engineering research they did on their earlier Salyut and Mir stations, developing a vessel that can keep humans alive on long trips to other planets."
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Chinese Spacecraft Enters Orbit Around the Moon

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  • Great to see (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Monday January 12, 2015 @11:18PM (#48799637)

    Glad to see someone is returning to the Moon, no matter which nation. We need more space exploration in general.

    • Indeed. Humans are returning to the Moon.

    • Re:Great to see (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Michael Woodhams ( 112247 ) on Monday January 12, 2015 @11:46PM (#48799757) Journal

      Since 1969 there have been people living on Earth who have visited another world. It would be a terrible failure of humanity if one day this was no longer true. I am not fond of the Chinese government, but if they send people to the moon, I'll be enthusiastically cheering them on.

      • by quenda ( 644621 )

        It would be a terrible failure of humanity if one day this was no longer true.

        Was it a terrible failure of humanity that we stopped building giant pyramids? Sure the first few are cool, but its awfully expensive.
        Why not wait a few generations until the technology has progressed sufficiently, that we can do something substantially better.
        There is only so much you can reasonably do with muscle power or fossil-fuel rockets.

        • A minor nit-pick: I think you mean "chemical rocket".

          Probably the most common rockets are liquid hydrogen/liquid oxygen. Neither are fossil fuels. Solid rockets could contain oil-derived plastics in their fuel, I don't know enough to say how often this is so. SpaceX uses kerosene/liquid oxygen which does use fossil fuel, although I expect it wouldn't be hard to substitute a suitable biofuel if they really wanted to.

          • by quenda ( 644621 )

            A minor nit-pick: I think you mean "chemical rocket".

            No, I was trying to stress the antiquated nature, and the limited reserves of this resource we are squandering.

            rockets are liquid hydrogen/liquid oxygen. Neither are fossil fuels.


            > Currently, the majority of hydrogen (95%) is produced from fossil fuels by steam reforming or partial oxidation of methane and coal gasification.

            OK, so "fossil-fuel-derived" ? But so is gasoline.

          • Uh no. The majority of rockets have not been lh2/lox. It is absolutely rp-1 or kerosine combined with lox. And second would be udmh combined with N2O4.
        • We never stopped building giant pyramids. Those specific structures were votive, like the European cathedrals we built later for a different style of worship. The Romans followed the Egyptians with concrete buildings, aqueducts and a highway system. The pyramids of today are undersea tunnels and ultra-tall buildings. Expansion into space is just a continuation of the same process.

          • by itzly ( 3699663 )

            I think the point is that the old pyramids were useless, but extremely expensive, artefacts. Similar to astronauts planting a flag on the Moon. Undersea tunnels and aqueducts actually serve a very useful purpose. The problem is that there's very little useful stuff we can do in space. The biggest exception would be commercial satellites, but we're already doing that. Unmanned exploration is nice for some (I like it), but not appealing enough for the majority of the people to allow for big budgets.

          • In 4000 - 6000 years how many of our structures will remain?
        • You have to admit though it leaves one questioning how it could be done, I've heard it said today if expense wasn't a concern a pyramid like the greats could not be reproduced using modern tools.

          I'm not an engineer so I don't know how true it is.
          • I've heard a lot of nonsense said today. We may not have specific plans to build a giant pyramid, but we can definitely move the rocks around, far better than they could back then, and if somebody had the land and actually wanted to pay to build one it wouldn't be hard.

          • by quenda ( 644621 )

            I've heard it said today if expense wasn't a concern a pyramid like the greats could not be reproduced using modern tools.

            I'm not an engineer so I don't know how true it is.

            I hear Obama is a Reptilian, but I'm not a zoologist.

      • The west will be on the moon by 2022 or sooner.
      • Enthusiastically? Maybe not.

        I submit that as much as people like to complain about Pax Americana, Pax Sinica will be a helluva lot more overbearing, ethnocentrist, and painful to anyone not Chinese (and within that group, very narrowly benefiting their "1%ers" to an even more lopsided degree than US society today).

        It will be interesting to see how 'open' their space program will be to other countries; they've already shown themselves to be rather terrible 'space citizens' in terms of debris-consequences.

    • Assuming that the american GOP can be stopped, america will have humans at a luner base by 2022 if not 2020. Bigelow, with NASA help, are working hard to put us there. What is needed is spacex's MCT, which is designed to put 100 tonnes on mars in one shot, for less than $.5B. Musk will be happy to do lunar trips as well, but the GOP keep trying to gut Bigelow and spacex.
    • "returning to the moon" -- Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, a NASA spacecraft, is operational in orbit around the moon right now and has been there since 2009. NASA just makes it look so easy that when they do it, nobody notices. [] []

  • by MrKaos ( 858439 ) on Tuesday January 13, 2015 @12:52AM (#48799973) Journal
    I hope it's not more SyFy, it would be great to see humans progress beyond LEO.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      The Republicans don't beleve space exists so they're against NASA and especially against LEO trips. That is the way of their kind. They hate humanity in general so they won't allow us to go to space, because they don't believe in it.

    • A new space race? Asians!

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Our systems, especially propulsion, are just too primitive to be sending any humans to any of the planets. And most of that technology will have to be built on the moon, outside any atmosphere and in a much smaller gravity well. Also, considering our success rate in such things, we have just as good a chance of terraforming the moon as we do Mars. It will all be under glass anyway. Without a working core Mars can never generate and hold a breathable atmosphere. And unless the damn spaceships are as comforta

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Use a nuclear rocket. Have a self-contained reactor heating your working fluid and expelling it out the back (say, hydrogen) at high pressure & velocity.

      Now, your fuel is a bit more common, you just have to get sizable quantities of it one place. As an alternative, you could just have it use whatever was available (within specs) as a working fluid.

  • by VAXcat ( 674775 ) on Tuesday January 13, 2015 @09:53AM (#48801949)
    If I was running the Chinese space program, I'd put together a mission to the Sea of Tranquility, and bring bak some Apollo 11 souvenirs. It would be the most intense possible statement that there are now two nations on the Earth that have had the technology and will to travel to the Moon, and the USA no longer has a monopoly on it.
  • by allquixotic ( 1659805 ) on Tuesday January 13, 2015 @01:05PM (#48803931)

    "...within 125 miles (200 kilometers) of the lunar surface at its closest point, and out to a range of 3,293 miles (5,300 km) at its highest point..."

    Thanks to Kerbal Space Program, I know what those are called! The first one is the periapsis and the second one is the apoapsis. :D (Yes, I know, common knowledge, but it's cool that a game taught me a thing or two about spaceflight...)

    Too bad real life has the Ferram Aerospace mod enabled; this craft very likely would be unable to reenter the atmosphere and land (or splash down) without breaking up, because it's not designed to withstand the heat and drag forces.

"Never face facts; if you do, you'll never get up in the morning." -- Marlo Thomas