The journey toward a Chinese space station has taken a huge step forward. Yesterday China's Shenzou 8 spacecraft, which launched earlier this week, successfully docked with the country's Tiangong-1 space module, which was placed in orbit by an earlier launch. The successful docking maneuver demonstrated a leap forward for China's manned space program, and the first in a series of missions designed to test technologies that China hopes to cultivate into a manned space station by decade's end.
Both spacecraft were unmanned for the mission. The Shenzou craft was the active participant in the docking, firing its thrusters to nudge its way closer to the (relatively) stationary Tiangong-1. Guided by optical and radar sensors, the two glided to a secure lock between their docking rings, at which time twelve hooks locked the two spacecraft together. A dozen pins then made electrical connections between the two. The maneuver took place at roughly 211 miles altitude directly above China and required just ten minutes to complete.
The docked pair will orbit for 12 days before separating and then docking a second time. They will then orbit for two more days before Shenzou 8 heads back to Earth with its science payload about two weeks from now.
Two more missions, Shenzou 9 and Shenzou 10, are planned for next year. Both are expected to dock with Tiangong-1 and, if Shenzou 8 proves successful over the next two weeks, those missions will likely be manned (it's rumored that one of them could include China's first female astronaut).
Big picture, this docking is similar to the strides made by the American space program during Gemini in the middle 1960s. But the pace of China's sprint toward becoming a space power is frenetic. China is only the third country to put a manned space travel program into action--its first manned flight was in 2003--and the rate at which they are ticking off milestones is impressive. It's also somewhat troubling to Washington, where some are worried about China's military ambitions in space (note the PLA officers seated in mission control in the video below, and the fact that a military officer addressed the room after the successful docking).
China hopes to have its very own 66-ton space station in orbit--or at least underway--by 2020. That's about the same time the International Space Station is scheduled to be decommissioned (unless its lease is extended again). Draw from that whatever you will.
It’s great to see other nations are getting their feet wet in space.
This is the only story Popsci has in the midst of all this Data Age Info they keep reiterating from several supercomputers. I hope they don't keep this up all month.
China is moving quickly with their space program but what can you reasonably expect when a country finally does things that are nearly 50 years old. China will always be behind the U.S, Russia, and the European Space Agency until it actually accomplishes something. All it has done so far is piggy back off the ideas of the past. The true test will come when China has to develop new methods for accomplishing things not yet achieved.
You know, I have bought several used cars in my life time.
They worked and I got from point A to point B.
Old used ideas are proven ideas.
Now China space ships look a lot like Russia's yes, but they still are in space and are they are learning!
In 20 years in the future, it is possible they could be advanced. It is really hard to know.
good for them. The USA has monopolized space too long. I am glad to see other countries reaching for the stars (and picking up the slack). I just hope they don't do anything stupid like blowing up another satellite.
i wouldn't characterize the US space program as a monopoly because we did it first, the russians and ESA are doing alot in space, stop bashing (trolling?) the US, negative cheers
With the vastness of space bringing 2 objects preciously gently together is so neat! And if you mess up and put a hole in the space craft, many can die. The skin of those space ships is really thin and the mass of those two objects is large. The upper part of the video and the approach is the best part!
well i guess soon the chinese will be the only ones in space then since the u.s. was the only country with an active thing going to the iss, unless russia has something. i havent heard
Russia have evrything... but the money :(
bored? lets go mine the stars... ^^
bored? lets go mine the stars... ^^
The Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) is using the Soyuz space vehicles they have developed back in the 1960s. They use them all the time for unmanned freight missions to the ISS as well as transferring astronauts to and from the station.
Right now the spacecraft is the sole vehicle for astronaut transport to and from the station for astronauts from different countries (minus China of course). This vehicle has also run in tandem with the space shuttle for several years as well, including support for ISS operations since its inception.
Necessity is the mother of all invention, and you can not naively believe that anyone's motivation for such development is completely benevolent. We simply are not a benevolent race.
With the international claims of cyber attacks originating from components of the PRC government, it does stand to reason that China looks to dominate the cyber and the space realm currently held by the U.S. in an attempt to establish a significant measure of military dominance.
Sounds paranoid, maybe. But it's not outlandish. Especially for the number two economy in the world that only wishes to work on it's own on space endeavors rather than collaborate with the international scene like everyone else is.
The first time I watch the video. I was looking at the upper right side video and thought we were watching a person eye pressed against the glass, you know the iris. To my surprise a space ship showed up?!
I felt kind of sorry for that astronaut watching the approach, having a space ship poke him in the eye like that; it must of hurt like a dandy! OUCH!
your being the troll because you are seeing negative in a comment that was not meant to be negative.
I didn't mean the the USA monopolized space by force or by choice! it just happened that way because no one else has really. the USA has monopolized GPS for 30 (?) years. We did not do this on purpose it just so happens we were the only ones who had GPS sats in oribit.
try not to be such an ##$ hole to me. I was not trying to be negative in the least. on the other hand. you are\were
competition is a good thing and pushed the frist space race to the heights that it did. After Russia essentially lost... the rest of the world combined has done about 10% of what the USA has done.
by dictionary definition the USA had and still does a monopoly on space. I did not not know reading the dictionary was considered trolling or usa bashing.
Yeah! common sense cheers!
@pheonix1012 you do sound paranoid, because if you actually read about the hacking attacks that the PRC supposedly carried out, it was to "protect" internal PRC security. They were not stealing trade secretes. They were trying to spy in THEIR OWN PEOPLE! Their own people just happened to be using and accessing websites and programs that are made from and originating in the USA.
the sat attack... I am not sure what that was. part of it I am sure was pure ignorance of how much space trash they would create. In part it was to show they could destroy any military sats if they wanted to. and the the BEST part is they are have shown the USA a hole in their military/space technology that we now know exists and I am sure think tanks have been hard at work to fix (so in part thank you china for showing us your hand)
I say in part becuase of ingorace, because when it comes to space tech a lot of the times that is the case. Russia is a very capable country, yet they tried to launch 7 nuclear reactors into space. 6 of them failed to reach orbit, after the first 5 attempts they still tried a 6th time. Making dumb space mistakes seems to be a right of passage in making it into space. so I dont really blame china as long as they do not do it twice. even iran has failed to launch a monkey into space. so they are right on track, they have 1 major blemish on their record.
In this case, China has made the same mistake dozens of times with a dozen countries. They're not new to the cyberspace domain, they're just new to spaceflight. While the two are connected they are very different when you talk about compromising the systems of a GPS satellite. That's not a "oops, sorry," mistake. That's a deliberate action equivalent to the opening salvo of a war.
Don't tell me you truly believe every legitimized excuse that comes from the PRC to vindicate them from international action. If you got caught trying to steal from twelve different people and they charged you with theft with a near 90% accuracy of the claims, would you not find a way to legitimize your theft as a misunderstood action to keep from directly suffering the wrath of these twelve people (not saying you would steal, just postulating an example in the inner workings of the human mind when backed into a corner)?
The U.S. government would get away with such things if it could (and sometimes does). The only thing keeping our government from such actions on a great scale is the fact that we live in a society where not only the international community would charge the U.S. with claims, but the citizens of this country would do the same (the reason we live in a free society).
So the PRC can try to blame this stuff on their own people. Do you think someone is going to try to stand out against them? They would do so unsuccessfully and with dire consequences if they didn't turn it into an international incident. Plus they probably didn't disclose the names of individuals responsible for such action if they actually exists.
The great U.S. of A. is not the only nation in the world capable of conspiracy and espionage, and is not the top runner on the list. I like to see stories of China making strides towards endeavors such as these, but when there are reports from the BBC that indicate the PRC government has been traced in computer hacking allegations from private and government entities in the U.S., U.K., and E.U. I kinda rather not advocate a government entity or entities that conduct a series of actions that ultimately mean me and mine harm. It's enough we have to deal with greedy, manipulative capitalist in this country. I don't want to have to suffer the plight of authoritarian communists (which is not a commentary on the Chinese people but the government; there's a difference).