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China in Space September 3, 2016

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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This month sees the launch of the Tiangong-2 space station by the People’s Republic of China. And it’s going to be no small achievement. A three person orbiting space laboratory and part of a broader programme that the Chinese are approaching with a slow but steady determination. Ultimately the idea is to have a larger station that will match the Soviet’s MIR and the ISS. It is not impossible that the Chinese will have a permanent presence in orbit when the ISS is eventually rendered obsolete.

No wonder that people are beginning to take notice.

The Guardian had a long piece this last weekend about the Chinese programme that points to quotes like the following:

“You will see the Chinese quite visibly begin to match the capacity of the other spacefaring powers by 2020,” predicts Brian Harvey, space analyst and author of China in Space: The Great Leap Forward . Key to this will be the large manned space station, Tiangong, which they plan to have in orbit by then. Although not as physically large as the International Space Station America, Russia, Europe, Japan and other countries have been building and using since 1998, China’s space station will have a broadly similar capacity to perform science.

By the way, as the Guardian notes, Tiangong is going to be open to astronauts from UN member states. A lunar probe that will land on the far side of the moon in two years. A mars probe. And possibly, fifteen or so years from now a human landing on the Moon.

And there’s this too… unlike the US which talks and talks about Mars programmes the Chinese are putting in place the building blocks of a credible, goal oriented programme.

At present there is no agreement on what to do when the current agreements to use the International Space Station come to an end in 2024. With America continuing to talk about hugely expensive missions to Mars, but with no real plans or budget in place to do this, Russia and ESA could increasingly find that their space ambitions are more aligned with those of the Chinese.

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