China's First Space Station Module Reaches Orbit
September 30, 2011 1:02 PM
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Rendering of Chinese Tiangong-1
Two years from now other modules will launch
China is looking to make itself into a technology,
, and space power over the coming years. China wanted to be part of the ISS, but NASA would not allow the country to participate. Rather than sulk in the corner, the Chinese have set about building an ISS rival and the first section of that rival space station has now been launched into orbit.
The first section of the Chinese space station, called Tiangong-1, was launched into orbit successfully. The Tiangong-1 module lifted off aboard a Long March 2FT1 rocket from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center. MSNBC reports that the module is about the size of a boxcar and is in orbit 217 miles above the Earth.
The Chinese say that the module will be used to survey Chinese farmland using special cameras and will conduct an experiment that involves growing crystals in space.
After the launch of this first module, China plans to launch an unmanned Shenzhou 8 spacecraft to practice remote controlled docking procedures with the orbiting module. The Tiangong-1 name means "Heavenly Place-1" and it will stay in space alone for two years. After the 2-year window, China will send two more modules up for more tests and then the actual space station will be launched in three sections in 2020 to 2022.
"This is a significant test. We've never done such a thing before," Lu Jinrong, the launch center's chief engineer, was quoted as saying by the official Xinhua News Agency.
The launch of the module was delayed for a year due to technical issues with the launch rockets. The Long March 2C rocket failed to reach orbit kicking off an investigation into the cause of the failure.
As the Chinese gear up to launch their space station, NASA is looking to
deorbit the ISS
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There is a reason why NASA is not launching to orbit.
10/3/2011 6:01:15 AM
I am sure classified military launches are not exempted, so they would not want much attention. Besides, what China is doing has been done decades ago by Russia and US. If China can afford to BURN money on orbital research, no one is going to stop them.
"Young lady, in this house we obey the laws of thermodynamics!" -- Homer Simpson
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