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Shenzhou 9 spacecraft  (Source:
China will send its Shenzhou 9 spacecraft to the Tiangong 1 orbital module

China plans to perform its first manned space docking sometime this month after a successful unmanned space docking last November.

China will send its Shenzhou 9 spacecraft to the Tiangong 1 orbital module at some point in June 2012, but the exact date hasn't been specified yet. The Shenzhou 9 already made its way to the launch platform at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center last Saturday, which is in northwest China.

Over the next few days, a series of tests on the spacecraft, carrier rocket, ground systems and astronauts will take place. There will be three astronauts aboard the Shenzhou 9, and females may be considered as part of the crew.

This manned mission comes after China launched its first successful unmanned mission last November. The Shenzhou 8 docked with the Tiangong 1 orbital module, marking China's commitment to its space-related goals.

Last December, China described its five-year space plans in a report released by the government. According to the blueprint, the country wants to construct space stations, ship freighters, space laboratories and a manned spaceship through the end of 2016.

China also said it plans to use probes to explore the moon's surface as well as asteroids, planets and the sun, and it wants to improve launch vehicles, meteorological satellites, communications and broadcasting to form a global satellite navigation system.

The U.S. recently made a successful space docking of its own, where SpaceX became the first private company to dock an unmanned spacecraft at the International Space Station (ISS). Since that successful flight, SpaceX has entered into an agreement with satellite service provider Intelsat for its Falcon Heavy rocket, and will make additional trips to the ISS for NASA as well.

Source: The New York Times

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RE: Makes me wonder.
By knutjb on 6/11/2012 9:08:42 PM , Rating: 2
Seriously though, sounds very ambitious and I really hope they can pull it off. It is beginning to look as if the next big space race will be between China and India, I just hope they don't end up leaving the rest of the world behind and playing catch up.
While I don't wish them ill in their endeavors I don't believe it will be a positive outcome with their success. The Chinese don't play nice with others.

They wouldn't be as far along as they are if it weren't for the Clinton Admin. Certain information was leaked to China so a couple US companies could get their satellites into space on the cheap.

With the current clown in chief we are blowing off space for the most part. Private companies do have a role to play. The biggest part still belong to NASA. When it comes to certain rights in unexplored areas a country will trump private enterprise. Not to mention national security interests only a National, manned space-based station provides.

This isn't paranoid, just pragmatic. Whoever controls space controls the planet...

If you can figure out how to catch and mine asteroids it opens up a new source of rare minerals needed for technological advancements. None of which can or will happen if we are sitting on our hands.

RE: Makes me wonder.
By Jedi2155 on 6/11/2012 10:21:57 PM , Rating: 2
And he who controls the spice...controls the universe....errr I mean space. ;).

RE: Makes me wonder.
By maugrimtr on 6/12/2012 9:10:38 AM , Rating: 2
Aside from the "clown in chief", congress (both sides of the aisle) seems pretty intent on spending $40b+ on a Space Launch System whereas companies like Space X are on the edge of achieving something similar on around $4b of government funding (omitting private funding). Most of NASA's problems these days are the forced spending of its limited budget (dictated by politicians) on massively inefficient projects like the SLS instead of redirecting such basic tasks to the private sector and focusing itself and its funds towards more suitable projects that private industry wouldn't be interested in funding.

That's a lot of cash that could be redirected towards researching space travel and automated vehicles beyond LEO where we've been stuck since the last moon landing...

As usual, the government is inept at spending funds. They just want to keep Boeing/Lockheed happy and supplying jobs to their home states at the taxpayers expense.

RE: Makes me wonder.
By knutjb on 6/12/2012 11:28:34 AM , Rating: 3
The reason I pick on the clown in chief is that a leader gives us a goal and direction to go in, not the how we will do it, i.e. JFK. The clown is nothing more than a reactionary manager without vision. No vision congress wanders off topic.

The planned $40B SLS is well entrenched in limbo unlikely to return as envisioned. Space X is well placed to do an end run around the entrenched bureaucrats of NASA. People don't like change and they are used to Boeing/Lockheed. So it will be harder for Space X but they seem to be doing that. I hope they succeed.

I see NASA as a source of vision for the president to say plant us on the moon for more research and as a launch base for deep space. NASA needs to be the lead on commonality of equipment so everyone plays nice, i.e. the railroads, they use the same types of couplers, track width, car types, etc... We don't want to see early space to look like the early aircraft barnstorming period.

BTW look up how much we spent going to the moon and how much we have spent on solar cells. After you are done scratching your head at the lower cost of going to the moon…

Look how much we waste on paying just the interest on the debt, that alone could get us a long way towards those goals. Most social welfare programs don’t work. Once you get past the guilt trips from those leaching off the waste and look at the objective data you won’t feel bad in eliminating them. Head Start for example shows a benefit only at the end of the program, one year later those from Head Start show no difference from those who didn’t participate. That is from an internal Head Start evaluation. Sorry I could find the link to that report. That is but one example of thousands out there. It is YOUR money, not the governments, how do you want it spent. If you are pummeled with guilt trips when weeding out non-performing programs you are likely on the right path.

If you don't like what congress is doing; vote in a leader with vision for president, write and visit you congressman and senators, replace said congressman and senators. It does work, but it does take time.

RE: Makes me wonder.
By JediJeb on 6/12/2012 12:37:05 PM , Rating: 2
A lot of 50s and 60s Scifi had us fighting the Russians in space, maybe it will be the Chinese instead.

If the west can get over the belief that government should take care of the people, and go back to believing that people take care of themselves and the government only handles group projects like infrastructure,exploration or national defense maybe we would then be back on track to making some great advances in science.

"What would I do? I'd shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders." -- Michael Dell, after being asked what to do with Apple Computer in 1997

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