Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center

Jiuquan, China

Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center

Jiuquan, China
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News Article | April 19, 2016
Site: motherboard.vice.com

Image of the embryos having developed to the blastocyst stage 80 hours after launch. Image: Enkui Duan Chinese scientists are creeping a tiny bit closer to the future dream of humans colonizing and reproducing in space. They’ve succeeded, reports the Chinese Academy of Sciences, in developing early-stage mouse embryos aboard the SJ-10, a satellite that was launched into orbit on April 6 from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China’s Gansu Province. “This research is a very first step for [we humans] to make interstellar travel and planet colonization come true,” Enkui Duan, the principal investigator of the space mouse embryos project and a researcher at the State Key Laboratory of Stem Cell and Reproductive Biology in Beijing told me over email. I caught Duan as he spent a sleepless night travelling to retrieve the mouse embryos (some of which survived) from Sizi Wangqi in Inner Mongolia—where the SJ-10 satellite landed on April 18—and back again to his team’s lab in Beijing for further analysis. “The experiment we have proposed in space was a big challenge. We boarded more than 6,000 mouse embryos on China’s SJ-10 recoverable satellites by using our newly developed large scale mammalian embryo freezing and thawing technology,” said Duan. The embryos before launch, at the two-cell stage (not yet developed to blastocysts). Image: Enkui Duan The team developed an embryo culture system and placed it within a small enclosed chamber that provides the ideal conditions for the embryos to develop in space. While the chamber was in orbit, a camera attached to the experiment took photographs of the embryos as they developed in microgravity, and sent these images back to Earth. With the aid of their imaging technology, the researchers were able to observe how the mammalian two-cell stage embryos developed into blastocysts under microgravity after four days. Blastocysts are structures formed in the very early development of mammals. In humans blastocysts begin to form five days after fertilization. The researchers will now compare their space-developed embryos to those cultured in normal laboratory environments on Earth to see what differences there are between the two at both a cellular and molecular level. In the long run, the researchers are tying their research into the more broader issues of whether humans could survive and live healthily in space, whether they could have healthy offspring in space, and if short or long-term travel in space could affect human fertility owing to exposure to harsh space environments. In other words, they’re dreaming big. “The question we focused on is whether humans could achieve the dream of surviving and reproducing in outer space in the future,” said Duan. “Now, we have finally proven that the most crucial step in our reproduction—early embryo development—is possible in outer space.” L-R Zheng WB (designer of embryo cultural box), Enkui Duan, Lei XH (embryo researcher) at the payload transfer area. Image: Enkui Duan Duan and his team have been working on space reproductive technologies for the last couple of years, and they first attempted to develop mouse embryos in space back in 2006. That time, the team placed four-cell stage mouse embryos in the SJ-8 satellite, which beamed back high-resolution images of how those embryos were getting on. “Unfortunately, all embryos failed to develop because of the high temperature in the culture system according to the data and images transmitted from the SJ-8 satellite,” said Duan, who didn’t give up. He and his team spent the next few years persuading Chinese state officials that “failure is inevitable in the path of such space exploration,” and that the team was set on succeeding if it was given a second chance. In the meantime, Duan also collaborated with researchers from the Shanghai Institute of Technical Physics in order to improve their space-faring equipment and in-lab culture systems. Though Duan admitted that humans still had a long way to go before they can could colonize space, he was adamant that his team’s project was a leap in the right direction. “As we know, after the embryo develops to blastocyst, it must implant into the uterus then develop into a fetus. Next, we want to see whether the embryo developed in outer space could implant into the uterus correctly and develop into the final step—the fetus,” said Duan. “We will further still focus on the possibility of mammalian embryo implantation and subsequent development as well as human pregnant ability in outer space. Our final conquest, is the sea of stars.”


News Article | April 13, 2016
Site: www.nature.com

Embryos edited Researchers at Guangzhou Medical University in China have reported editing the genes of non-viable human embryos to try to make them resistant to HIV infection. The team collected a total of 213 fertilized human eggs, donated by 87 patients, that were unsuitable for implantation as part of in vitro fertility therapy because they contained an extra set of chromosomes. The researchers then used the CRISPR–Cas9 genome-editing technique to introduce into some of the embryos a mutation that cripples an immune-cell gene called CCR5. Some people naturally carry this mutation, which alters the CCR5 protein in a way that prevents the HIV virus from entering the cells it tries to infect. Genetic analysis showed that 4 of 26 human embryos targeted were modified with the CCR5 mutation. But in some embryos, not all sets of chromosomes harboured the mutation; some contained the unmodified gene, whereas others had acquired different mutations. In April 2015, a different China-based team announced that it had modified a gene linked to a blood disease in non-viable human embryos, igniting a worldwide storm of ethics concerns. See go.nature.com/igymgu for more. SpaceX rocket touches down at sea SpaceX took a major step towards re-usable rockets when it flawlessly landed the first stage of its Falcon 9 rocket on an unmanned ship in the Atlantic Ocean, after an 8 April launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida. It was the first successful landing of the rocket at sea, following four attempts that resulted in crashes. The company, based in Hawthorne, California, returned an intact Falcon rocket to land in December last year. The latest flight delivered cargo to the International Space Station (ISS), including an expandable astronaut habitat designed by Bigelow Aerospace of North Las Vegas, Nevada. The previous SpaceX mission to the ISS failed when a Falcon 9 rocket broke apart after launch in June 2015. Kepler scare NASA mission managers were shocked to discover on 7 April that the exoplanet-hunting Kepler space telescope had entered emergency mode. Mission control was able to return it to normal operations three days later, but the cause of the malfunction remained a mystery as Nature went to press. This was the first software glitch in Kepler’s seven years in space, although it previously suffered hardware breakdowns. The spacecraft has lost at least the first several days of a planet-hunting campaign that it was scheduled to begin on 7 April and conduct until 1 July. See go.nature.com/mu7woc for more. China satellite lab China has launched its largest-ever suite of microgravity and life-science experiments into orbit. The country’s Shijian-10 probe left the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in Gansu province, northern China, on 7 April. It is carrying 19 experiments that include tests to assess the effects of radiation on genes as well as the influence of microgravity on materials, fluid physics and combustion. The early development of mouse embryos in microgravity will also be examined. After its 15-day mission, the bullet-shaped craft will re-enter Earth’s atmosphere to be recovered from a landing site in Inner Mongolia. Self-driving lorries Six squads of automated lorries successfully arrived in Rotterdam in the Netherlands on 6 April after having driven themselves from Sweden, Belgium and Germany, with one fleet travelling more than 2,000 kilometres from Stockholm. The trial was part of the Dutch-government-led European Truck Platooning Challenge and included lorries from six different manufacturers. ‘Truck platooning’ involves two or more lorries connected by WiFi and driving in a convoy, with the first vehicle determining the speed and route. The technology aims to save fuel by enabling lorries to travel closer together, which reduces air drag. Bank climate plan The World Bank announced a Climate Change Action Plan on 7 April to help countries to meet their commitments under the United Nations climate agreement signed in Paris in December 2015, and to prepare for unavoidable impacts of climate change. Under the plan, the bank will mobilize US$25 billion in private financing for clean energy by 2020. Among other actions, it will quadruple funding for clean transportation programmes and help to bring early-warning systems for natural disasters to 100 million people. Reef catastrophe Huge swathes of coral in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef are undergoing severe bleaching (pictured), according to aerial surveys. Many corals in the northern part of the reef are likely to die, because raised sea temperatures have caused them to expel the symbiotic algae that give them their colour. Researchers at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies in Townsville, Queensland, who are assessing the damage, say that more than 1,200 kilometres of the roughly 2,300-kilometre-long reef have bleached, and that the situation is substantially worse than in the two previous bleaching episodes in 1998 and 2002. See go.nature.com/ys7bau for more. Cambodia tiger loss Tigers are no longer breeding in Cambodia and the population there should be considered “functionally extinct”, the conservation group WWF announced on 6 April in Phnom Penh. The last wild tiger there was seen on a camera trap in 2007 in the Mondulkiri Protected Forest. But the WWF noted that national estimates and data compiled by the International Union for Conservation of Nature suggest that global tiger populations have rebounded to 3,890, from about 3,200 in 2010. Cambodia plans to bring eight young tigers from India into its dry forests in the Eastern Plains by 2019, as part of the global Tx2 initiative aiming to double wild tiger populations by the year 2022. Pharma merger off A marriage between two large pharmaceutical companies has been called off. Pfizer of New York City and Allergan of Dublin announced on 6 April that they had terminated a proposed merger process, which would have enabled the resulting company to take advantage of lower taxes in Ireland. The news came two days after the US Department of the Treasury unveiled stricter rules on companies that seek to move abroad to avoid US taxes. Pfizer pledged to announce by the end of the year whether it will spin off some parts of the company. NASA science chief Former astronaut John Grunsfeld, who has overseen NASA’s science portfolio since 2012, announced his retirement from the space agency on 5 April. The physicist and space-telescope expert flew five times on the space shuttle — including three visits to the Hubble Space Telescope — and was the lead spacewalker on the final flight to maintain and upgrade the telescope in 2009. As associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, he was responsible for more than 100 missions, such as the New Horizons spacecraft that visited Pluto last year. Grunsfeld’s deputy, Geoff Yoder, will take charge until a successor is chosen. Contracts with the International Seabed Authority (ISA), which regulates sea-bed mining in international waters, have picked up in recent years. Although commercial mining operations have not yet started, governments and corporations have signed contracts with the ISA to allow them to explore areas of the world’s oceans for materials including manganese nodules, copper, zinc, cobalt and platinum. Researchers have warned about the environmental impacts, saying that stricter regulation is needed. 16–20 April The American Association for Cancer Research holds its annual meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana. go.nature.com/q1t4fp 17–22 April The American Meteorological Society’s 32nd meeting on hurricanes and tropical meteorology convenes in San Juan, Puerto Rico. go.nature.com/pvszif


News Article | August 16, 2016
Site: www.techtimes.com

A rocket carrying China's first ever quantum satellite shot upward from Inner Mongolia on Tuesday (GMT +8), Aug. 16, propelling the country's goal of pioneering the first quantum communications network in outer space. The 1,400-plus-pound Quantum Experiments at Space Scale (QUESS) satellite roared from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center into the sky aboard a Long March-2D rocket at 1:40 local time. QUESS Chief Scientist Pan Jianwei says that from a follower in classic information technology (IT) development, China is now at the forefront, guiding achievements in the future. The satellite will move around Earth once every 90 minutes after it gets into a sun-synchronous orbit at an altitude of 500 kilometers (310 miles), officials said. In late May, China announced plans to launch its first quantum satellite into space and obtain a highly coveted asset against cyberespionage: hack-proof communications. Tuesday's early launch is just the beginning of the country's strategy to surpass the West in this challenging scientific field. Quantum physicist Nicolas Gisin, a professor from University of Geneva, says it is very likely that China will win the race to produce a quantum satellite. "It shows again China's ability to commit to large and ambitious projects," Gisin tells The Wall Street Journal. Indeed, the quantum communication race has been going on for the last two decades since the initial demonstration of the quantum key distribution link under Lake Geneva in the 1990s, says Professor Alexander Sergienko of Boston University. What's more, although scientists from Europe, Japan and the United States are scrambling to take advantage of the powerful properties of subatomic particles, only few of them have as much state support as Chinese researchers. In fact, quantum technology is a chief strategic focus in China's economic development plan for five years. It hasn't been disclosed how much Beijing allocated to quantum research or in building the QUESS satellite, but basic research funding was estimated to be at $101 billion in 2015, reports say. During its two-year mission, QUESS will establish hack-proof communications by sending uncrackable keys from outer space to Earth. The satellite, which earned the nickname "Micius" after a fifth century Chinese scientist and philosopher, will also provide insights into quantum entanglement — one of the strangest phenomena in quantum physics. Quantum communications is a much-coveted technology and ensures ultra-high security because a quantum photon can neither be duplicated nor separated. Hence, it is impossible to intercept, wiretap or crack the data sent transmitted through it. Meanwhile, Chinese scientists will test the quantum key distribution between satellite and ground stations and perform quantum communications between Beijing and Xinjiang's Urumqi. The QUESS satellite will also transmit entangled photons to two Earth stations that are 1,200 kilometers (745 miles) away from one another, in the hopes of testing quantum entanglement over a greater distance. © 2016 Tech Times, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.


News Article | September 21, 2016
Site: www.nature.com

Lightning records The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has recognized two world records for extreme lightning: the longest-distance flash covered 321 kilometres in 2007 in Oklahoma, and the longest-duration flash lasted 7.74 seconds in southern France in 2012. The WMO has added lightning records, announced on 16 September, to its list of other weather extremes — such as temperature and precipitation — given the improved monitoring of the phenomenon in recent years. Arctic ice cover hits second-lowest level Despite a relatively cold and cloudy summer, sea ice in the Arctic Ocean dropped to its second lowest extent since satellite observations began 37 years ago. Arctic sea ice seems to have reached its seasonal minimum on 10 September, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) in Boulder, Colorado. Ice cover stood at 4.14 million square kilometres, which ties with 2007 as the second-lowest minimum in the satellite record. The ten lowest extents have all occurred since 2005. In September 2012, Arctic sea-ice cover dropped to a record-low 3.39 million square kilometres. Terror discovered Marine archaeologists have found the probable remains of HMS Terror, the second of two ships lost in a failed 1845 Arctic expedition led by John Franklin. Following a tip from an Inuit crew member, a search party from the Arctic Research Foundation, a Canadian charity, found the submerged vessel in the aptly named Terror Bay, on the coast of Canada’s King William Island. The wreck was in good condition with its hatches closed, suggesting that crew members abandoned it and boarded Franklin’s second ship, HMS Erebus to sail farther south. The Erebus was later abandoned and all 129 expedition members lost. Parks Canada said on 14 September that it aims to validate the find. Dystrophy drug The US Food and Drug Administration has approved its first drug to treat Duchenne muscular dystrophy. The decision, announced on 19 September, is controversial owing to the small size and lack of a placebo control in the key clinical trial conducted by the developer, Sarepta Therapeutics in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The agency will require Sarepta to conduct another study to verify the effects of the drug, eteplirsen. Gaia reveals The European Space Agency released the largest, most detailed star map yet of the Milky Way on 14 September, in the first data release from its Gaia space observatory. The data suggest that the Milky Way is slightly bigger than previously estimated. See page 459 for more. Trial transparency Long-awaited US rules intended to crack down on the large number of clinical trials that are never reported were released on 16 September. The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will require that researchers report the design and results of all clinical trials, and those who do not comply can be penalised. And the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) is imposing new rules on agency-funded work, including stricter reporting requirements for phase I trials. Both sets of laws go into effect in January. Separately, US vice-president Joe Biden announced that the NIH has developed a user-friendly registry for cancer trials. See page 450 for more. Value science Science should be valued more highly in international decision-making, argues a United Nations report released on 18 September. Prepared by the UN Scientific Advisory Board, the report says that policymakers should consider the role of science in policy and society more seriously when addressing issues such as sustainable development, climate change, food and water security and inequality. It also recommends that nations invest a greater fraction of gross domestic product in science, technology and innovation. State of the EU Research stands to do well out of the European Commission’s mid-term review of its budget for 2014–20. The review, released on 14 September, proposes freeing up €6.3 billion (US$7 billion) from budget reserves and other sources for programmes that foster job creation and address the refugee crisis. The Commission proposed allocating €400 million to top up its Horizon 2020 research-funding programme, and €200 million to strengthen its student exchange scheme Erasmus+. It also promised to unwind some of the red tape that comes with its grants. The proposals require approval by the European Parliament and Council of Ministers. Chinese space lab China has launched its second orbiting space lab — marking another step towards the country’s goal of building a space station by the early 2020s. Tiangong 2 (meaning ‘heavenly palace’) launched on a Long March rocket from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the Gobi desert on 15 September (pictured). It will initially fly uncrewed in low-Earth orbit, but a planned second launch will carry two astronauts to it in November. The 8-tonne module carries several scientific experiments, including a γ-ray detector. Nuclear go-ahead The UK government approved the building of an £18-billion (US$23-billion) nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point in southwest England on 15 September, seven weeks after it put a surprise brake on the project. The government had said that it needed time to review the deal, which is being funded two-thirds by French energy company EDF and one-third by China. Hinkley Point C will be the first new UK nuclear plant this century, and it is expected to meet 7% of UK electricity demand. The government says that it has imposed national-security safeguards on the deal. New GSK chief GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) will become the only major global drug firm to be led by a woman. The company announced on 20 September that Emma Walmsley, head of its consumer-health-care division, will replace Andrew Witty as the company’s chief executive. Witty, one of the biggest names in the industry, will stand down in March 2017. Cosmic upgrade The Pierre Auger Observatory, a facility spread over 3,000 square kilometres in Argentina that aims to reveal the origins of ultra-high-energy cosmic rays, began a US$14-million upgrade on 15 September. The improvements should enable it to tell apart different types of cosmic ray. Sensors called scintillators are being added to each of the observatory’s Cherenkov detectors (water tanks) to measure the ratio of electrons and muons that rain down when a cosmic ray hits the atmosphere above. That, in turn, will improve estimates of the mass of the particles that make up these rays. Million-dollar prize The first winners of a set of US$1-million prizes awarded for research done in China were announced on 19 September. The Future Science Prize for life sciences was awarded to pathologist Yuk Ming Dennis Lo at the Chinese University of Hong Kong for the discovery that DNA from a fetus can be extracted from the mother’s blood, and for the non-invasive prenatal test it enabled. Qi-Kun Xue at Tsinghua University in Beijing won the physics prize for discovering experimentally the quantized anomalous Hall effect (an unusual motion of electrons in a conductor at low temperature) and high-temperature superconductivity at material interfaces. The prizes, billed in Chinese media as ‘China’s Nobels’, are funded by Robin Li, head of China’s Internet giant Baidu, and other business executives. Agriculture merger Agricultural biotech giant Monsanto has accepted a US$66-billion takeover bid by Bayer, a health-care and chemical company in Leverkusen, Germany. The deal, announced on 14 September, could reshape the agricultural technology industry, which has recently seen the consolidation of several large companies. The combined firm will be headquartered in St Louis, Missouri, and have a research-and-development budget of about €2.5 billion (US$2.8 billion). The deal has yet to be approved by regulators and Monsanto shareholders, but is expected to be finalized by the end of 2017. Systematic reviews and meta-analyses distil articles on similar research into what is meant to be an authoritative take on a topic. But valuable work is being diluted by a torrent of “unnecessary” articles, according to a report by a leading meta-researcher. The number of such studies added to PubMed each year is more than 27 times what it was in 1991 (J. P. A. Ioannidis Milbank Q. 94, 485–514; 2016). The increase might stem from articles intended to increase citations, or to serve as marketing tools, the report says. 27 September–7 October The International Civil Aviation Organization discusses aircraft emissions at its summit in Montreal, Canada. go.nature.com/2d1bmty


Belintersat-1 will be put into a geostationary orbit (GEO), 51.5 degrees East to provide a wide range of telecommunication services, including satellite TV and radio broadcasting and broadband internet access. It will be operated by the Belarusian government's company Belintersat for up to 15 years. The satellite is already attached to the launch vehicle and awaits its Friday liftoff. The most important tests of the spacecraft has been conducted and the mission has been OK'd for launch. "The satellite has been fully checked and tested at the manufacturing site more than a month ago, during the so called factory tests. One of the most important of them is payload compliance with the requirements like antennas' gain contours, transponders parameters stability and linearity and so on," Dmitry Kuzmin of Belintersat told Astrowatch.net. To be fully prepared for liftoff, the Long March 3B launch vehicle itself must yet pass a series of tests and checks hours before the ignition. These will include electrical powering on and electronics functional tests, telemetry checks, checking gas pipes of all stages and boosters and loading refined aiming data. Belintersat-1 was built by the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC). The car-sized satellite has dimensions of 7.9 by 6.9 by 11.8 feet (2.4 by 2.1 by 3.6 meters) and weighs about 5.2 tons. It is based on CASC's DFH-4 bus consisting of propulsion module, service modules and solar arrays spanning 72 feet (22 meters) when fully deployed in space. The DFH-4 platform can be used in high capacity broadcast communications satellite, new generation direct broadcasting satellite, new generation tracking and data relay satellite, regional mobile communications satellite. It is a large telecommunications satellite platform of new generation, keeping high capability in output power and communication capacity ranking with international advanced satellite platforms. The satellite is equipped in 20 C-band and 18 Ku-band transponders delivered by Thales Alenia Space. 34 of them are 36 MHz and 4 are 54 MHz-bandwidth to provide a full set of telecommunication services. The spacecraft has an output power of 10.15 W. Belintersat-1 was built to provide a full range of advanced satellite services in Europe, Africa and Asia, as well as ensure global coverage in the Eastern Hemisphere. The spacecraft is part of Belarusian National System of Satellite Communication and Broadcast - the largest project in the field of telecommunications, implemented by this country. The program was designed to provide telecommunication services for governmental and commercial clients both in Belarus and overseas. "Our project is of high innovative, economic, social and political importance to Belarus," Belintersat states on its website. The three-stage Long March 3B rocket that will be used in Friday's flight is currently the most powerful Chinese rocket in service. The 180-foot (55-meter) tall booster is capable of launching up to 12 metric tons of payload into low-Earth orbit (LEO) or 5 metric tons of cargo into geostationary transfer orbit (GTO). The 3B/E version that was employed for the mission is an enhanced variant of the rocket, featuring an enlarged first stage and boosters. This version was brought into service in 2007 to increase the rocket's GTO cargo capacity and lift heavier GEO communications satellites. The first Chinese mission of the year will be the 223th flight of the Long March rocket series and the 35th flight overall for the 3B version. With the Belintersat-1 launch, China starts a very busy year in terms of sending payloads to orbit. In 2016, the country intends to carry out more than 20 space missions. China also plans to return to human space flight this year. Shenzhou-11, a planned crewed mission is slated to lift off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center and dock with China's upcoming second space lab, Tiangong-2, which should be on orbit by the time the crew's Shenzhou spacecraft is sent aloft. The exact launch dates for these missions have yet to be released.


News Article | September 15, 2016
Site: www.techtimes.com

China is making plans to create and launch its own space station by the year 2020. Before this happens, the country has decided to launch its second ever space lab known as the Tiangong-2 spacecraft. The Tiangong-2 was sent into space on Sept. 15 from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest of China. A Long March-2F T2 rocket has been used to ferry the space lab into orbit. If everything goes according to plan, then the Tiangong-2 should manage to settle in an orbit that is over 200 miles away from Earth. After settling in orbit, the Chinese space lab will then perform several checks and other important tests to make sure everything is in order. Finally, the space lab will climb to an altitude of more than 244 miles, and there it will wait for a team of astronauts to arrive via the Shenzhou-11 by the end of October. We understand the astronauts in question have yet to be publicly identified, but we do know they plan to stay for up to 30 days on the Tiangong-2. The plan for these astronauts is to experiment on space medicine, biology, and physics, according to a report from Xinhua. "The number of experiments carried out by Tiangong-2 will be the highest of any manned space mission so far," said Lyu Congmin of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. By April 2017, China will launch its first ever cargo space ship that is expected to bring supplies and fuel to the Tiangong-2. This cargo ship is known as the Tianzhou-1, and we expect more of them to be sent to deliver goods in order to keep astronauts fed and maintain the space lab in orbit. What about the design of the Tiangong-2? It's similar to that of the Tiangong-1, which was launched back in 2011. Interestingly enough, Chinese astronauts have only visited the Tiangong-1 only twice since it went into space. There must have been some underlying problems because the Tiangong-2 is being released quite early. The plan right now is to have the Tiangong-1 fall to Earth in 2017. China did not give an update, but we expect if the Tiangong-2 is good enough, then the government won't hesitate. In late August, China sent its first quantum communication satellite to space. It was a huge achievement for the country as it moves to secure its presence outside of Earth. The country is also making plans to launch its own version of the Hubble Space Telescope in 2020. © 2017 Tech Times, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.


News Article | September 16, 2016
Site: www.rdmag.com

China has launched its second space station in a sign of the growing sophistication of its military-backed program that intends to send a mission to Mars in the coming years. The Tiangong 2 was carried into space on Thursday night atop a Long March 7 rocket from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center on the edge of the Gobi Desert in northern China. Plans call for the launch next month of the Shenzhou 11 spaceship with two astronauts to dock with the station and remain on board for a month. The station, whose name means "Heavenly Palace," is considered a stepping stone to a mission to Mars by the end of the decade. The Tiangong 2 module will be used for "testing systems and processes for mid-term space stays and refueling," and will house experiments in medicine and various space-related technologies. China's first space station, Tiangong 1, was launched in September 2011 and officially went out of service earlier this year after having docked with three visiting spacecraft. China conducted its first crewed space mission in 2003, becoming only the third country after Russia and the U.S. to do so, and has since staged a spacewalk and landed its Yutu rover on the moon. Administrators suggest a manned landing on the moon may also be in the program's future. China was prevented from participating in the International Space Station, mainly due to U.S. concerns over the security risks of involving the increasingly assertive Chinese military in the multinational effort. A source of enormous national pride, China's space program plans a total of 20 missions this year at a time when the U.S. and other countries' programs are seeking new roles. China is also developing the Long March 5 heavier-lift rocket needed to launch other components of the Tiangong 2 and other massive payloads. China plans to land a rover on Mars by 2020, attempting to recreate the success of the U.S. Viking 1 mission that landed a rover on the planet four decades ago.


News Article | September 15, 2016
Site: www.chromatographytechniques.com

China has launched its second space station in a sign of the growing sophistication of its military-backed program that intends to send a mission to Mars in the coming years. The Tiangong 2 was carried into space on Thursday night atop a Long March 7 rocket from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center on the edge of the Gobi Desert in northern China. Plans call for the launch next month of the Shenzhou 11 spaceship with two astronauts to dock with the station and remain on board for a month. The station, whose name means "Heavenly Palace," is considered a stepping stone to a mission to Mars by the end of the decade. The Tiangong 2 module will be used for "testing systems and processes for mid-term space stays and refueling," and will house experiments in medicine and various space-related technologies. China's first space station, Tiangong 1, was launched in September 2011 and officially went out of service earlier this year after having docked with three visiting spacecraft. China conducted its first crewed space mission in 2003, becoming only the third country after Russia and the U.S. to do so, and has since staged a spacewalk and landed its Yutu rover on the moon. Administrators suggest a manned landing on the moon may also be in the program's future. China was prevented from participating in the International Space Station, mainly due to U.S. concerns over the security risks of involving the increasingly assertive Chinese military in the multinational effort. A source of enormous national pride, China's space program plans a total of 20 missions this year at a time when the U.S. and other countries' programs are seeking new roles. China is also developing the Long March 5 heavier-lift rocket needed to launch other components of the Tiangong 2 and other massive payloads. China plans to land a rover on Mars by 2020, attempting to recreate the success of the U.S. Viking 1 mission that landed a rover on the planet four decades ago.


News Article | September 15, 2016
Site: motherboard.vice.com

China successfully launched its second space station, Tiangong-2, into orbit on Thursday at 10:04 AM EDT, from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the Gobi Desert. It will soon be an orbiting home to two taikonauts (the Chinese term for astronauts). The mission is regarded as a key stepping stone towards the nation's larger spaceflight ambitions, which include sending taikonauts to the Moon and eventually to Mars. Measuring 10.4 meters (34 feet) in length and weighing 8.6 tonnes (18,500 pounds), the Tiangong-2 was ferried to an altitude of 380 kilometers atop China's powerful Long March-2F T2 rocket. This second generation spacecraft, whose name translates to "Heavenly Palace" in Mandarin, will conduct some initial tests before boosting itself even higher to an altitude of 393 kilometers, roughly on par with the International Space Station (ISS). If all goes according to plan, the tubular orbital laboratory will receive its first taikonauts in late October on a spacecraft called Shenzhou-11. Though the names of the two crew members have not been released, they are both men, and they are expected to spend 30 days aboard Tiangong-2, according to Xinhua News. If successful, it will be the longest manned Chinese space mission to date. In terms of specs, the new station is almost identical to its precursor, Tiangong-1, which operated in space from September 2011 until March 2016, and is on track to deorbit and immolate in the atmosphere next year. READ MORE: Why China's Quantum Satellite Is Incredible—And Will Surely Be Overhyped Tiangong-1 hosted two separate crews of taikonauts, the first in June 2012 and the second in June 2013, who staffed the station for roughly ten days each. These initial crews consisted of three people each, but the Tiangong-2 crews will be cut down to two to accommodate longer mission durations. Where the first module was geared more towards testing out maneuvers like docking and re-entry, the next crew will use its extended mission time to focus on scientific experiments in fields like space medicine, atomic timekeeping, and solar storm research. "The number of experiments carried out by Tiangong-2 will be the highest of any manned space mission so far," Lyu Congmin, a solar energy expert at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, told Xinhua. Taikonauts have a long way to go before they will match the crewed spaceflight achievements set by NASA astronauts or Roscosmos cosmonauts. Valeri Polyakov, who spent an astonishing 437 consecutive days on the Mir space station, still holds the record for the longest single spaceflight. That said, the Chinese space program is gaining momentum. The Tiangong spacecraft series is planned to culminate with the construction of China's first continuously crewed space station, a goal set for the early 2020s. Given that the fate of the ISS is unclear past 2024, it's possible China may be the only nation with a permanently staffed space station within a decade's time. Whether it will be accessible to astronauts from other countries is an open question at this point. On one hand, China recently encouraged international participation in its space station plans. On the other, Chinese citizens are prohibited from visiting the ISS due to US opposition, citing national security concerns, so perhaps similar restrictions based on geopolitical tensions will be in play on the Tiangong station. Building a sustainable orbital habitat is far from the only milestone China hopes to achieve in space. The nation has also has lunar sample return missions and Mars rovers in the works, and hopes to land taikonauts on the Moon in the 2030s, and on Mars in the 2050s. Get six of our favorite Motherboard stories every day by signing up for our newsletter.


News Article | October 10, 2016
Site: www.techtimes.com

In 2014, China's space station will become operational at the same time when the International Space Station (ISS) will retire, according to its current plans on development. The ISS is the most well-known artificial science laboratory on a worldwide scale, but China is currently working on taking its place with a space-based science lab. It's currently unknown if China is going to be the only country in the world to detain such a facility by that time, but its plans make it the most serious candidate. The China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) is now working on building the space station, which could be the only operational one in the world by 2024. Should this happen, the entire spectrum of scientific discoveries will be monitored by its off-Earth flight services. As part of the preparation procedure, the country launched of the space modules Tiangong-1 and Tiangong-2, the second of which is currently in position. Tiangong-2 was sent in space using the Long March 2F rocket from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center on Sept. 14, 2016. Moreover, even though the country lost any contact with Tiangong-1, the CASC plans are to also launch a main space station module in 2018. Its name will be Tianhe-1, and it will be driven into space by the most powerful Chinese rocket, Long March 5. Lei Fanpei, the chairman of CASC, explained that the experimental module of the space station will launch in 2018 and, provided no other space station will be announced, China's will be the only one in service by 2024. The Taikonauts, as the Chinese astronauts are known, could spend more than one year in the space station, which has a total life span of 10 years in orbit, 400 km above the surface of the Earth. The cargo spacecraft could, additionally, travel from our planet to the space station in order to provide the Taikonauts with necessary supplies. With this space station, China will be the second country after Russia to have developed a space station, according to Lei. Back in 1992, the Chinese representatives created a three-step plan for the program, whose last step will be the large-scale space station. By April 2017, China will launch the first cargo space ship, expected to bring supplies to Tiangong-2. The ship is also known by the name Tianzhou-1, and its duty is to keep astronauts safe and the space lab in orbit. The ISS's first component was launched into orbit in 1998, being the most significant body in low Earth orbit —sometimes observable with the naked eye. The artificial satellite's components were launched by Russian Proton and Soyuz rockets, as well as American space shuttles. © 2017 Tech Times, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.

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