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  White Paper: China's Space Activities in 2011

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Author Topic:   White Paper: China's Space Activities in 2011
Robert Pearlman
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From: Houston, TX
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posted 12-29-2011 09:58 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
China on Thursday issued a white paper (full text) on the development of its space industry since 2006 and the major tasks for the next five years, the Xinhua state news service reported.
Major tasks listed in the white paper for the next five years include space transportation system, Earth satellites, human spaceflights and deep-space exploration.

The country will launch the Shenzhou-9 and Shenzhou-10 spaceships and achieve unmanned or manned rendezvous and docking with the in-orbit Tiangong-1 vehicle, the paper said.

China also plans to launch space laboratories, manned spaceship and space freighters, and will start a research on the preliminary plan for a human landing on the moon, the document said.

As an important part of deep-space exploration, the country's lunar probe projects follow the idea of "three steps" -- orbiting, landing and returning.

In next five years, the country plans to launch orbiters for lunar soft landing, roving and surveying to implement the second stage of lunar exploration, then it will start the third-stage project of sampling the moon's surface matters and get those samples back to Earth, the white paper said.

In addition, China will build a space infrastructure frame composed of Earth observation satellites, communications and broadcasting satellites, plus navigation and positioning satellites.

Saturn V
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From: Golden, Colorado, USA
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posted 12-29-2011 11:55 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Saturn V     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thank you for posting this Robert. We need to keep an eye on China and their activities.

Blackarrow
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posted 12-30-2011 10:38 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
One of the world's leading financial newspapers, the London "Financial Times" has the following front-page headline story today: "CHINESE PUSH TO PUT MAN ON MOON."

The report refers to China's "white paper" setting out plans for the next 5 years and reports that China will "...conduct studies on the preliminary plan for a human lunar landing."

The report also quotes "Chinese experts" as saying that this will be "after 2020."

You have been warned!

Robert Pearlman
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posted 12-30-2011 11:12 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Reading the white paper, it is clear that it is not about China sending humans to the moon. In fact, the only mention (as reprinted in the Financial Times) is that one sentence.
China will conduct studies on the preliminary plan for a human lunar landing.
As has been the case with most of the general media (and even some of the space-dedicated publications), when it comes to reports about China's manned lunar ambitions, the reality is much less urgent than the breaking news purports it to be.

Glint
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posted 12-30-2011 12:59 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Glint   Click Here to Email Glint     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Saturn V:
We need to keep an eye on China and their activities.
I agree. Helps us to see China's lies directly:
China always adheres to the use of outer space for peaceful purposes, and opposes weaponization or any arms race in outer space.
Such as when they launched the ASAT weapon? The authors must think we have the mind of a child to talk this way.

Blackarrow
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posted 12-30-2011 07:33 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Robert, I don't disagree with you: China's progress in space so far has been glacial (i.e. powerful, but moving very slowly). Nevertheless, their stated intention now goes beyond unmanned probes to the Moon. It seems clear they are interested in landing people on the Moon. I agree, however, that the reference to a "preliminary plan for a human lunar landing" leaves the timescale wide open. (And of course, intentions can change.)

In comparison, the United States has an official policy to build a rocket capable of sending astronauts back to the Moon, but no landing vehicle and no plan to land.

Sounds like a race between a determined tortoise and a reluctant hare...

Kite
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posted 12-31-2011 05:29 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Kite     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Very well put Geoffrey. You have a way with words....

issman1
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posted 12-31-2011 07:15 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for issman1     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Glint:
Helps us to see China's lies...

Perhaps the fact that NASA and CNSA are on an equal footing in human spaceflight, for the first time in a long time, is too much for some Americans?

I'm sure US co-operation with Russia was also a bitter pill to swallow in the late 1990s.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 12-31-2011 07:35 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by issman1:
Perhaps the fact that NASA and CNSA are on an equal footing in human spaceflight...
I'm sorry, what? While I applaud China's manned space efforts to date (all three flights), they are far from equal in capability or accomplishment with the United States and Russia. In fact, I would suggest that they still trail the European Space Agency, JAXA and the Canadian Space Agency when it comes to experience in space.

China is making strides, but as a latecomer to manned space activities, it still has a long way to go before being on even footing with others...

Robonaut
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posted 12-31-2011 07:49 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robonaut   Click Here to Email Robonaut     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
How you order the space nations depends on what level of hardware, capability (past and present) and future potential you want to take into account but if you look at the basic level of an indigenous ability to launch humans into space then the order at this moment in time is Russia first, China second and no one third. This is a very simplistic way of looking at things but it is one way.

Blackarrow
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posted 01-01-2012 01:47 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I must admit that my original comments were provoked by the intriguing sight of a British newspaper (and a financial one at that!) headlining a space story. It usually takes a disaster.

Rob makes a fair point about CURRENT pecking-order in space. Robert is also right that China lags behind many others in overall space experience. What it boils down to is INTENTION, and on that basis I would put money on the next voice from the surface of the Moon speaking Chinese. I obviously hope NASA and the others give the Chinese a run for their money, but China doesn't have to grope in the dark like America and the Soviet Union did in the early days. China has the benefit of 50 years of detailed published results of other nations' space research, and now has the opportunity to adapt those results to its own purposes. If China wants to put a man on the Moon by 2020, or 2021, or 2022, rest assured it will. But don't assume they will tell us too far in advance, in spite of some greater recent transparency.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 01-01-2012 02:00 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Blackarrow:
China has the benefit of 50 years of detailed published results of other nations' space research, and now has the opportunity to adapt those results to its own purposes.
China will still need to stage a significant engineering effort of its own to build the hardware required for lunar surface operations, beginning with the lander itself. There is no off-the-shelf solution.

And to be clear about the timeline, China is focused on deploying a space station by 2020. It plans to start planning for a manned lunar expedition in the 2020s.

Blackarrow
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From: Belfast, United Kingdom
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posted 01-01-2012 03:01 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Robert Pearlman:
And to be clear about the timeline, China is focused on deploying a space station by 2020. It plans to start planning for a manned lunar expedition in the 2020s.
Acknowledged - but I still don't think we should accept their announced schedules as gospel. China is changing, but still suffers from some of that Soviet-style paranoia which is probably telling them that if they announce a date for a Moon-landing, it will give other nations the chance to beat them to it. That would be odd, as America got to the Moon over 40 years ago, but -hey- that's paranoia for you!

ilbasso
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posted 01-01-2012 04:17 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ilbasso   Click Here to Email ilbasso     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
For several months last fall, after the Progress launch failure and before Soyuz was cleared to fly again, China was the only country with a man-rated launch system...

China views time very differently than Western countries. They think of time relative to a culture that stretches back thousands of years. The 1948 Revolution is still comparatively recent history for them. Given that the US and Russia have budget constraints that will severely hamper their space efforts for the foreseeable future, China perceives no need to rush to compete against the US and Russia. They will rely on persistence and measured steps to make progress toward their long-term goals.

It's also helpful to remember that the US has a very sizable secret military space program whose budget dwarfs NASA's.

gliderpilotuk
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posted 01-03-2012 05:30 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for gliderpilotuk   Click Here to Email gliderpilotuk     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by ilbasso:
It's also helpful to remember that the US has a very sizable secret military space program whose budget dwarfs NASA's.
Amen.

And just for clarification... on September 13, 1985, the US destroyed US satellite P78-1 using an ASM-135 ASAT anti-satellite missile. On January 11, 2007, China destroyed an old Chinese orbiting weather satellite. A year later on February 21, 2008, USA destroyed a malfunctioning US spy satellite USA-193 using a RIM-161 Standard Missile 3. It makes not a jot of difference whether you destroy the satellite from within or without the atmosphere.

I make that 2-1.

SpaceAholic
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posted 01-03-2012 07:52 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for SpaceAholic   Click Here to Email SpaceAholic     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
There certainly is a difference (in/out of the atmosphere) as well as basic intent..the Chinese took an action without regard to the impact of 2nd/3rd order effects; in the later US example cited, the satellite was reentering so no on-orbit risk remained to other birds.

It also boils down to whether those of us who are non red-book carrying westerners believe a Maoist state like China should be entrusted with access to this technology. The white paper can be viewed as a component of that country's information operation's campaign to project a benign approach to space but I wouldn't assume it paints a complete picture of their national space strategy; it only encapsulates those elements China will want the public to consider as it attempts to project an image most favorable to its interests.

Glint
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posted 01-03-2012 01:16 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Glint   Click Here to Email Glint     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by gliderpilotuk:
And just for clarification... on September 13, 1985, the US destroyed US satellite P78-1 using an ASM-135 ASAT anti-satellite missile. On January 11, 2007, China destroyed an old Chinese orbiting weather satellite. A year later on February 21, 2008, USA destroyed a malfunctioning...
Yes, but which country was it again who recently stated it "always adheres to the use of outer space for peaceful purposes, and opposes weaponization or any arms race in outer space"?

The white paper doesn't seem to indicate any policy change by China. Rather they imply their future policy is identical to their previous policy -- sort of a status quo. China insists it has always adhered to the peaceful use of outer space. However, their claim is shown to be false by the contradictory evidence you've provided.

dom
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posted 01-03-2012 02:47 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dom   Click Here to Email dom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by SpaceAholic:
It also boils down to whether those of us who are non red-book carrying westerners believe a Maoist state like China should be entrusted with access to this technology.
China is no longer a "Maoist state" but has quickly become a one-party autocratic capitalist playground - just ask its biggest cheerleader Henry Kissinger!

robert_l
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posted 01-07-2012 07:50 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for robert_l   Click Here to Email robert_l     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I don't know how any one can now claim that China is behind the U.S. or for that matter Russia. They may not have the experience but they certainly have the hardware. The Shenzhou spacecraft is far more advanced than Soyuz
and the American's can no longer reach LEO nevermind the Moon. China's space program is moving slowly forward.

Mike Dixon
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posted 01-07-2012 04:18 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Mike Dixon   Click Here to Email Mike Dixon     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Circular argument... if it comes down to capability, China runs a distant third to both Russia and (especially) the U.S.

SRB
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posted 01-09-2012 09:15 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SRB   Click Here to Email SRB     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I find it hard to disagree with the conclusion that China's current capabilities in space significantly lag those of the US and Russia. But that doesn't speak to which of the countries have the desire and financial resources to make space achievements a national priority. International prestige was a major goal of US leaders in the 1960s, and China's leaders today may have the same willingness to spend significant resources over long periods of time to achieve greatness in space. So today is only today but in ten years I bet the relative capabilities of the three counties will have changed significantly. I applaud the Chinese for their real commitment to the human exploration of space.

All times are CT (US)

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