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IN DEPTH: China’s Solar PV PowerChina would setup its own space station and a station in the Moon
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Economy of the Space in China
China would setup its own space station and a station in the Moon
How, Where and When
Sonya Agar

BT 201903 in depth 01中国将建立自己的空间站和月球站

杨利伟是第一位进入太空的中国宇航员。中国是继美国、俄罗斯之后第三个能独立将人类送上太空的国家。凭借其新的太空计划,中国的目标非常宏大。2016年,中国国家航天局宣布了一项五年计划,旨在实现中国国家航天局的几项雄心勃勃的目标。其中包括中国将在2020年发射首颗火星探测器,实施环绕和巡视联合探测。对于一个在太空方面没有取得重大里程碑的国家来说,这些计划可能看起来像白日梦,但中国是世界上最大的发展经济体,拥有卓越的技术优势,这使我们没有理由怀疑它们的雄心壮志。 1月,在中科院副院长张杰等领导的见证下,中国科学院国家空间科学中心主任王赤与卢森堡大公国副首相兼经济部部长施耐德在北京签署谅解备忘录。双方一致同意,在卢森堡设立深空探测研究实验室,围绕太阳系资源探索和利用,开展深空探测任务协同设计和新技术研究等工作。

BT 201903 in depth 02Yang Liwei was the first Chinese astronaut to have ventured into the orbit for China. When it comes to space, China has usually been preceded by the USA and Russia. Yang Liwei entered the realms a few decades after the USA and the USSR had made their entries. China is the third country to have achieved independent human spaceflight, and the third to have sent a woman into space. So far, China has only replicated the success of the USA and Russia.

Nevertheless, with its new space program, China is aiming big. In 2016, the China National Space Administration announced a five-year plan enlisting several of China’s ambitious goals to be achieved by the China National Space Administration. The method includes sample-return missions, sending the first probe to soft-land on the far side of the moon, sending robots on Mars, and placing a Chinese sizeable modular space station in Low Earth Orbit. These plans may look like daydreams for a country that has achieved no major milestone when it comes to space, but China is the world’s largest growing economy with promising excellence in technology, which gives us no reason to doubt their ambitions. In January, the Chinese space program signed a memorandum with the Ministry of Economy in Luxembourg, with a promise to cooperate in space ventures and development in space technology. Fixed monetary value has not yet been decided, but the two countries are determined to work towards their common goals together.

BT 201903 in depth 03China’s Future Space Station

According to recent revelations, China has decided to start sending parts of its future space station into space latest by 2020, and the space station will be functioning by 2022. China’s space agency has sent out invites to some of the countries venturing in space, to come and conduct their research on China’s facility.

Previously, the USA had blocked out China’s attempts at working towards having their space station, by barring them of the facilities from the International Space Station. China’s invitation to other countries to benefit from their facility, in addition to being a welcome gesture of cooperation towards other countries, is also a political move on China’s part as an answer to US’s unjust manoeuvre of locking China out of the ISS.

According to the chief designer of China’s future space station, Yang Hong, the lockout by the US has only fuelled China’s need to “achieve innovation,” which it undoubtedly has. China’s space agency is keeping the world in the loop and on its toes, by surfacing details about the space station. Discussed below are the few essential features of China’s Space Station.

BT 201903 in depth 04What will the station look like?

The Chinese Space Station is expected to be around one-fifth of the mass of the International Space Station, and to have the size of the Russian Mir space station. The station is estimated to have a mass of about eighty tons, but if loaded with manned spaceships and other cargo vehicles, the station may weigh up to a hundred metric tons. The Chinese Space Station will be operated from the Aerospace Command and Control Centre in Beijing, China. The station will be made of three modules joined together in a T shaped structure. This comes from a handbook that was released on May 28th, by China’s Manned Space Agency and the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs. China’s Space Station is one of the highly anticipated structures to be built and launched. Tianhe-1 or “Harmony of the heavens” is the name of the first module, whose construction was completed last year, and will be the first out of three modules to be launched by China. The module weighs about twenty to twenty-two metric tons. This module is the core, or main module, of China’s Space Station where the astronauts will inhabit the station. This Space Station is by far China’s largest and most complex spacecraft, as was told by Yang Hong, the station’s chief designer.

Chinese sizeable modular space station is built from scratch, because China couldn’t facilitate from the ISS, since the USA raised concerns about technology transfer and national security to keep China locked out and plant barriers in its way to space development. This is one of the primary reasons why it has taken China so long to have finally built a space station of their own, when countries like the USA and the European Union have made the International Space Station so long ago. The expenditure on China’s Space Station is yet to be disclosed, but since it is China’s largest and most complex spacecraft, it is safe to say that it was an economic feat to have built the Chinese Space Station. China’s biggest space contractor has done the construction of the Space Station, called the China Aerospace Science and Technology Group (CASC), and a few subsidiaries of the construction company.

NASA spent over a hundred billion US dollars on the ISS and spent about three billion US dollars on its maintenance annually. China mimics this amount by spending approximately three million US dollars on its space budget every year. It is looking to triple this budget shortly.

BT 201903 in depth 05The launch of the Space Station

The construction of the International Space station started in 1988, and it took a long time before it was launched ten years later on November 20th, 1998. Similar to the ISS, the construction and launch of China’s Space Station have been in the workings for a long time. Once completed, the space station will orbit at the height of 340 kilometres to 450 kilometres. The first module, Tianhe-1, is set to launch from the launch site of Wenchang Spacecraft located in the south of China, latest by the year 2020. The chief designer of China’s manned spacecraft program, Zhou Jianping, has announced to have Tianhe-1 launched in 2020, while the other two modules named Wentian and Mengtian, known as “The crest of heavens” and “The dreaming of the sky” respectively, are dated to begin following the launch of Tianhe-1. The space station is expected to start operating by the year 2022. The station is built on the knowledge and information China had accumulated from its space lab Tiangong-1, which spent six years in space before it came crashing back to Earth in April, 2018.

BT 201903 in depth 06China’s Future Plans

China may be the only country with a functioning space station in the next decade. The International Space Station was initially set up to be functioning until 2020, but then the date was later extended by NASA to 2024. But by 2018, the International Space Station will be no longer working. China is aiming for its space station to operate for a minimum of ten years, before it becomes defunct. Space station will begin to operate in 2022 with a maximum of six astronauts staying there for at least six months. During this time, the astronauts will be able to investigate space-related topics, study microgravity physics, and explore material science.

According to the China National Space Administration, Beijing’s already sending out invites to other countries to join China in its space exploration and conduct experiments with the Chinese team aboard its space station. According to Shi Zhongjun, China’s ambassador to the United Nations, China’s Space Station does not only belong to China, but belongs to the entire world.

China aims to use its space station as a centre for research and promoting the common interests of countries all over the world, rather than making it a ground for competition in space development. China seeks to make its space station a shared space for championing the interests of people from all over the world.

This concept has been repeatedly emphasized by the Chinese President Xi Jinping, and has become the slogan for all Chinese projects ranging from trade to controlling the worsening climatic conditions. The USA has reiterated its concerns over “national security,” which may hold back some countries from participating in this space endeavour with China, but countries that are lagging in space development may see this invitation as an opportunity to initiate space explorations.

What does the future in store?

China’s modular station to be launched in 2020
By 2020, China is expected to launch its modular station in the lower earth orbit. This space station will be operated from Beijing Aerospace Command and Control Centre. The space station is a modification of ‘Tianzhou-1’. The estimated size of this space station is almost one fifth to the size of International Space Station. The space station is considered as the third generation space station of modular category. It is built to meet a wide range of requirements and is far more reliable and cost effective as compared to generation one and two space stations. The assembly of this station is similar to Mir by Russia.

BT 201903 in depth 07China’s Mission to the Moon

China launched a spacecraft to land on the far side of moon later this year. The Queqiao relay satellite was launched from Xichang Satellite Launch Centre on May 20th, 2018. If the spacecraft successfully manages to land on the moon’s far side, then Chang’e 4 will become the first ever spacecraft to touch ground on the Moon’s far side. Queqiao will convey data between Chang’e 4 lander and its handlers here on Earth. China has partnered with Europe to build a human outpost on the moon. Representatives from both the parties have decided to collaborate on joint endeavours on the Moon. The plan was first revealed by the Secretary-General of China’s Space Agency, Tian Yulong. Later, the spokesperson for the European Space Agency, Pal Hvistendahl, confirmed that, indeed, Europe would be joining China in its space endeavours.

BT 201903 in depth 08China already has a very ambitious moon programme in place, and the European Space Agency hopes to collaborate with China and further their advances to the Moon.

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