China's Space Program News Thread


Quickie

Major
I don't think it has anything to to with politics at all (Russia is there), nor racial (Japan is there). It is IMO simply competition motivated to hinder anyone to overtake in a race. China is the only one who has that potential (money and forward speed). One can say this competition is also kind of politics, but certainly not the kind of politic of ideology.

The Russians collaboration with US has a long history stretching back to the 1990s when they are more advanced and capable in producing, launching and operating a space-station long before ISS, but also short of money to keep going. US wanted and needed Russian tech while Russia want a job, that's all. Then STS retired, US has to hitchhike on Russian Soyuz to visit ISS, and the RD180 engines to this day. Most importantly we have Boris Yeltsin who really thought the west would embrace a westernized Russia.
That is what I said. If the decision was not political then what was it about?

The collaboration goes back to the 1970s with the docking of the Soyuz and Apollo spacecraft at around the time of the cold war.

The U.S. had no qualms of cooperating with the Soviets during the cold war and at a time when the U.S. was supposed to have surpassed the Soviets in the space race to the moon, but the U.S. felt the need to block the Chinese scientists from attending a space exploration conference?

Edit: Just saw Taxiya's post before this. That post should come after this post in a normal flow of discussion but of course, I can't edit that.
 
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taxiya

Major
Registered Member
That is what I said. If the decision was not political then what was it about?

The collaboration goes back to the 1970s with the docking of the Soyuz and Apollo spacecraft at around the time of the cold war.

The U.S. had no qualms of cooperating with the Soviets during the cold war and at a time when the U.S. was supposed to have surpassed the Soviets in the space race to the moon, but the U.S. felt the need to block the Chinese scientists from attending a space exploration conference?

Edit: Just saw Taxiya's post before this. That post should come after this post in a normal flow of discussion but of course, I can't edit that.
My original post was not clear. Here I rephrase it.

As I have said there are two types of politics: power struggle for dominance and politics of ideology. It is not the second type, but it is the first type being played here.

The Soyuz-Apollo Test Project is mostly a political motivated undertaking with very little if any real technical meaning. It did not lead to any further collaboration to advance either sides space ambition. To me, it is just a dressed up show of good-will. We must remember that although Khrushchev could be recklessly aggressive, he is also famous (or infamous in China's view) in making the proposal of "peaceful co-existence of superpowers" in the same line as G2 proposed by Obama and Hillary Clinton which was ignored by China. The US knows very well that Xi is not Khrushchev, PRC is not old USSR. So US acts accordingly by denying cooperation. The US and USSR' idea was "a show is good, real cooperation is out of question UNLESS I can't live without you.", that idea hasn't changed.

Another difference is that the Soyuz-Apollo Test Project is made by two without "who is the lead". ISS and the ongoing Lunar Gateway are and will be always the US thing (I lead, you follow). If China is to join such cooperation, China will (and US knows) demand decision right and share of works in proportion to China's capability and contribution, meaning US may loose the leading position over time which is never acceptable. Just like everything we are seeing right now, trade, industry, technology and regional geopolitics.
 
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anzha

Junior Member
Registered Member
ISS and the ongoing Lunar Gateway are and will be always the US thing (I lead, you follow).
If I may, there's a nontrivial difference between how the ISS and Gateway are being developed and 'governed.'

The ISS has the US and Russia on equal footing from a governance POV. This is an artifact of the WHY of the ISS. Under the Clinton administration there was a call for cancelling either Space Station Freedom (ISS predecessor) or the Superconducting Super Collider. NASA made the pitch (successfully) for Space Station Freedom to used as a way to prevent Russian aerospace knowledge to leak all over the world as scientists and engineers would have been looking for employment with the dire straights Russia was in during the 90s. This is why Russia has a huge say in the ISS. It's also why the first component is a NASA owned, but Russian made module. Additionally, the orbit for the ISS was adjusted from the one planned for Freedom to the higher, current inclination to accommodate the Russians.

The Gateway Station is hands down, no question an American project with international participation. The US is calling all the shots and others must abide by the timelines and decisions made by NASA. The Russians are protesting this rather loudly. The era of trying to prevent the Russian knowhow from leaking to the rest of the world is over: China and others have surpassed the Russians in a huge way. The Russians lack the ability to place large modules or landers in the Gateway orbit. For that matter neither do the Europeans or the Japanese. None of them are peers from a capability stance.

China may have the capability to participate as a peer when the Gateway starts construction. However, NASA is barred by statute from collaborating with the Chinese. There are legitimate reasons and stupid ones for this. The Hughes sat incident back in the 90s certainly didn't help China. The Republicans going after NASA Ames due to a disgruntled worker blowing stuff waaaay out of proportion made it infinitely worse. The current American administration has ended numerous collaborations with China having nothing to do with space for that matter; frex, DOE had scientists participating in Chinese physics experiments. Not anymore. Probably not for a long time even after the current administration.

TBH, the Russians probably ought to be excluded from the Gateway[1]: they're not exactly acting as a friendly power and American subsidies for the Russian aerospace industry is counterproductive for American foreign policy goals. This would toss the Russians to work with the Chinese as collaborators and that would not be a bad thing. If the Russians are doing some additional modules and whatnot on Tianhe, the Chinese stations that follow and beyond, it would help, even if a minor way, for the Chinese, reinforcing their efforts to produce an alternate space development path from the US.

It's not a bad thing to have some competition in the world. Strictly collaboration does move forward with goals. However, competition breeds advances even faster. By no means do I expect a 1960s style space race, but keeping up the with Joneses (is there an equivalent Chinese idiom?) does make sure complacency doesn't set in. After all, the US could have done Artemis 10 years earlier had we not been navel gazing so much.

China, thank you for that mild bit of urgency added.

1. And substitute in the Indians once they have done their own human spaceflights. Or alternatively, adding India to the successor to the ISS. Probably the latter.
 

siegecrossbow

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Staff member
Super Moderator
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Components for China’s third Long March 5 rocket arrived at the country’s southern launch base this week as teams prepare for the first flight of the heavy-lift launcher since a 2017 mission ended in failure.


The return-to-flight mission, expected in the second half of December, is a major test of the heavy-lift rocket before China commits to launching a Mars rover and a lunar sample return mission on Long March 5 vehicles next year.

Hardware for the third Long March 5 rocket arrived Oct. 27 at Qinglan Port on Hainan Island aboard two Yuanwang transport ships, which are specially outfitted to ferry rocket components, according to the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp., or CASC, the primary state-owned contractor responsible for China’s space program.

Boosters and stages for the Long March 5 rocket were loaded into the two Yuanwang vessels at Tianjin in northern China, the site of the Long March 5 factory. The ships departed Tianjin on Oct. 22 for the five-day journey to Hainan Island, China’s southernmost launch site, according to CASC.

The containers were delivered by road to the Wenchang space center on the eastern coast of Hainan Island.

The Long March 5’s core stage size — with a diameter of 16 feet, or 5 meters — and the Wenchang launch site’s island locale require the rocket to be delivered by ship, rather than by train.

Wenchang is China’s newest spaceport, and has hosted four space launches to date. Two Long March 5s and two flights by the smaller Long March 7 have lifted off from Wenchang since the launch base began operations in 2016.

After a successful inaugural launch
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the second Long March 5 rocket failed during the launch of a massive experimental communications satellite
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Investigators traced the cause of the launch failure to a turbopump on one of the Long March 5’s two YF-77 first stage engines. The YF-77 engines power the Long March 5’s core stage, each consuming liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen propellants and producing up to 157,000 pounds of thrust in vacuum.

The YF-77 engine failure occurred in a “complex thermal environment” around six minutes after liftoff, leading to an instantaneous loss of thrust, according to Chinese investigators. Engineers redesigned the engine turbine exhaust structure for future Long March 5 missions, forcing officials to scrap engine parts already in stock.

The changes led to a gap of more than two years between the second and third Long March 5 flights, assuming the next rocket takes off as scheduled in December. In the interim between launches, engineers conducted test-firings of the modified YF-77 engine to verify the design changes, according to the State Administration for Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense, or SASTIND, the Chinese government agency that oversees the country’s space activities.

The YF-77 engines were developed specifically for the Long March 5, the largest rocket in China’s fleet. The Long March 5 launches with four kerosene-fueled strap-on boosters, each powered by two YF-100 engines, to augment the thrust from the core stage’s twin YF-77 engines.

Two restartable hydrogen-fueled YF-75D engines drive the Long March 5’s second stage.

The heavy-lift rocket blasts off with some 2.4 million pounds of thrust, and has the capability to deliver up to 14 metric tons — nearly 31,000 pounds — to geostationary transfer orbit, a popular target orbit for large communications satellites.

The payload for the third Long March 5 launch is named Shijian 20, an experimental satellite to replace the Shijian 18 satellite lost on the 2017 launch failure.

Like Shijian 18, the Shijian 20 satellite is based on the newest Chinese spacecraft platform, designated the DFH-5.

Developed by the China Academy of Space Technology, the DFH-5 design is bigger and more capable than China’s previous satellites, providing more power for communications payloads and additional data throughput for Internet providers, television broadcasters and data networks.

The Shijian 18 satellite lost in the 2017 launch failure hosted a laser communications instrument for high-speed data links, and new high-power ion thrusters. Shijian 20 is expected to carry similar payloads to conduct technology demonstrations in geostationary orbit.

A successful return-to-flight by the Long March 5 late this year would allow China to launch a pair of ambitious robotic deep space missions using Long March 5 rockets in 2020.

China’s first Mars rover is scheduled for launch on a Long March 5 in mid-2020, and the next mission in China’s lunar program — Chang’e 5 — will also require the lift capability of the Long March 5 next year to depart Earth.

Chang’e 5 will attempt to land on the moon, collect samples, and bring the materials back to Earth. It would be the first lunar sample return mission since the 1970s.

The launch of Chang’e 5 was delayed during the grounding of the Long March 5 after the 2017 failure.

China also plans to debut a variant of the Long March 5, called the Long March 5B, next year. The Long March 5B uses the same booster configuration as the already-flying Long March 5 design, but will launch without a second stage.

The Long March 5B is configured to loft heavy modules for China’s planned space station in low Earth orbit, which is scheduled to be completed in 2022.
 

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