Rocket science: China makes move in space

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By ZHAO LEI in Bei­jing zhaolei@chi­nadaily.com.cn

As two Chi­nese as­tro­nauts peered into the heav­ens from the Tian­gong II space lab they docked with early Wed­nes­day, Chi­nese rocket sci­en­tists on the ground said they are look­ing into ways to shape the fu­ture of the na­tion’s space mar­ket.

When the as­tro­nauts left their “divine ves­sel”, Shen­zhou XI, and en­tered the new­est high-tech “heav­enly palace” float­ing above Earth early on Wed­nes­day, it was one for the history books.

The dock­ing with the Tian­gong II space lab wasn’t the first such ma­neu­ver in the Chi­nese space pro­gram.

But it was highly sig­nif­i­cant, with more ex­per­i­ments planned, a space stay twice as long as ear­lier mis­sions and a space lab that’s a sig­nif­i­cant step to­ward the na­tion’s goal of hav­ing a per­ma­nent space station or­bit­ing in just a few years.

Once the two ve­hi­cles docked, mis­sion com­man­der Jing Haipeng, 49, and Chen Dong, 37, ex­tended greet­ings to all of the Chi­nese peo­ple and checked the sta­tus of the Shen­zhou XI-Tian­gong II com­bi­na­tion to en­sure equal pres­sur­iza­tion.

The two took off their space­suits to change into blue jump­suits.

They will re­main within the space lab for 30 days, mak­ing the long­est space stay by Chi­nese as­tro­nauts. They will ver­ify the life-sup­port ca­pa­bil­ity of the space­craft-space lab com­bi­na­tion and con­duct sci­en­tific re­search and en­gi­neer­ing ex­per­i­ments.

Jing and Chen will sprout

Cor­rup­tion Fight Is Al­waysUn­der­way, a doc­u­men­tary pro­duced by the CPC Cen­tral Com­mit­tee for Dis­ci­pline In­spec­tion and CCTV, con­tin­ued to show the sto­ries of for­mer se­nior of­fi­cial­swho­have fallen from­grace dur­ing the coun­try’s anti-graft drive. The se­ries, which­was­first broad­cast onMon­day at 8pmonCCTV-1, fea­tures the cases of 10 for­mer pro­vin­cial or min­is­te­rial-level of­fi­cials and a for­mer State leader. The in­ter­views were done while the for­mer of­fi­cials were de­tained, but be­fore any con­vic­tions. seeds and study their growth in space. They also will take part in an ex­per­i­ment in which a fu­tur­is­tic de­vice will try to trans­late their brain im­pulses into words to com­mu­ni­cate with the ground con­trol and to op­er­ate in­stru­ments in the space­craft.

Shen­zhou XI blasted off atop a LongMarch 2F rocket onMon­day from the Ji­uquan Satel­lite Launch Cen­ter in north­west China, about one month after the launch of Tian­gong II in mid-Septem­ber. This is China’s sixth manned space­flight and is ex­pected to pave the way for the per­ma­nent space station, con­struc­tion of which is sched­uled to start in 2018, with a launch planned around 2022.

How­ever, in the eyes of rocket sci­en­tists at the China Academy Launch Ve­hi­cle Tech­nol­ogy, the coun­try’s largest de­vel­oper of bal­lis­tic mis­siles and car­rier rock­ets, more is needed than State pro­grams alone for the fu­ture growth of China’s space sec­tor.

CALT is a sub­or­di­nate of the larger China Aero­space Science and Tech­nol­ogy Corp, the State-owned main con­trac­tor for the Chi­nese space pro­gram.

Hao Zhaop­ing, vice-pres­i­dent of CALT, said the academy will strive to tap the com­mer­cial launch mar­ket be­cause com­mer­cial space ac­tiv­i­ties have be­gun to rep­re­sent the de­vel­op­ment trend of the in­dus­try.

“We will con­tinue to push for­ward with the in­ter­na­tion­al­iza­tion and com­mer­cial­iza­tion of the academy’s space sec­tor through more par­tic­i­pa­tion in the in­ter­na­tional space mar­ket and in­tro­duc­tion of pri­vate cap­i­tal,” Hao said. “The govern­ment also en­cour­ages in­dus­try play­ers to de­velop com­mer­cial satel­lites and their ap­pli­ca­tions, com­mer­cial launch ser­vices and space tourism.”

Hao spokeWed­nes­day at a cer­e­mony mark­ing the es­tab­lish­ment of Chi­naRocket Co Ltd, a com­pany founded by the academy to pro­vide launch ser­vices to do­mes­tic and over­seas clients.

“The new

The govern­ment also en­cour­ages ... com­mer­cial launch ser­vices and space tourism.”

com­pany will start busi­ness by de­sign­ing and us­ing some light-lift rock­ets to ful­fill com­mer­cial con­tracts and then open the de­vel­op­ment of sub­or­bital, re­us­able space­craft for space tourism,” Hao said, adding the firm will also go pub­lic.

Han Qing­ping, pres­i­dent of Chi­naRocket, an­nounced that his com­pany aims at car­ry­ing out at least 50 launches per year and main­tain­ing a cost 30 per­cent lower than its com­peti­tors in the mar­ket. He did not elab­o­rate on the agenda to achieve th­ese goals.

In the past, the idea of com­mer­cial­iz­ing the space in­dus­try was deemed by some ex­perts in China as be­ing un­re­al­is­tic or even un­rea­son­able. Opin­ions started to change over the past two years along with the rise of pri­vate space en­ter­prises in the United States such as SpaceX and Or­bital Sci­ences.

In Fe­bru­ary, China Aero­space Science and In­dus­try Corp, a State-owned de­fense tech­nol­ogy gi­ant, set up the Ex­pace Tech­nol­ogy Co Ltd to put it­sKuaizhou-se­ries solid­fu­eled rock­ets on­the mar­ket.

Ex­pace Tech­nol­ogy will have an an­nual pro­duc­tion ca­pac­ity of 50 car­rier rock­ets and 140 com­mer­cial satel­lites by 2020, com­pany ex­ec­u­tives said.

China has launched 54 car­rier rock­ets to lift satel­lites for for­eign clients.

Hu Shengyun, a se­nior rocket en­gi­neer at China Aero­space Science and In­dus­try Corp, es­ti­mates that by 2020, the mar­ket value of com­mer­cial space ac­tiv­i­ties in China will reach 30 bil­lion yuan ($4.6 bil­lion) an­nu­ally.

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