China See’s 20/20 With Upcoming Space Station

Posted by on Mar 15, 2011 in China, Space Stations | 2 comments

After being denied access to the ISS (or International Space Station) orbiting the heavens above, China is not scheduling to build their own space station about a decade from now.

China is ready to carry out a multiphase construction program that leads to a large space station around 2020. As a prelude to building that facility, China is set to loft the Tiangong-1 module this year as a platform to help master key rendezvous and docking technologies.

During the projected one- to two-year lifetime of Tiangong-1 — which means “Heavenly Palace” in Chinese — an unpiloted Chinese Shenzhou-8 spacecraft will first attempt to dock with the platform, to be followed later by two piloted Shezhou missions to further hone rendezvous and docking skills. (Space.com)

When completed the space station will allow 3 taikonauts (or Chinese astronauts) to survive up to 40 days in orbit (although the “first piece” will give taikonauts 20 days of life).

China has not indicated whether they will open up the space station to the Chinese private sector, although the People’s Republic has hinted about using it as a means to “strengthen exchanges” with other space faring nations.

While the Chinese space station is not as impressive as the Genesis space stations from Bigelow Aerospace, it’s construction will provide China with some of the critical details needed in order to survive upon the Moon.

Image Credit: CCTV

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Russia To Challenge Bigelow For Space Station Supremacy

Posted by on Nov 12, 2010 in Russia, Space Industry, Space Stations | 0 comments

Bigelow Aerospace has more or less been the main contender on the commercial space station front. While other challengers like Galactic Suite have emerged, most have yet to build anything beyond fancy diagrams and CGI videos.

However that may change with the entrance of a new comer to the commercial space station industry, one who hails from “mother Russia.”

Two Russian companies have also recently announced their intentions to build, launch and operate a private space habitat named the Commercial Space Station, or CSS. […]

“The most exciting possibilities include flights from the station to the moon or Mars,” Sergey Kostenko, chief executive officer of Moscow-based Orbital Technologies, told SPACE.com.

Orbital Technologies said the station will have a crew of up to seven and will be serviced by Russian Soyuz and Progress spacecraft and potentially other commercially available vehicles. The station would consist of one module about 10 feet (3 meters) in diameter powered by solar arrays, with a usable volume of about 700 cubic feet (20 cubic meters), Kostenko said. The plan is to launch it in 2015 or 2016. (Space.com)

Orbital Technologies is already receiving backing from the Russian Federal Space Agency, and unlike Bigelow Aerospace the former intends to heavily cater towards the tourism market instead of seeking out nations or companies as primary clients.

According to Space.com the Commercial Space Station (note: yes, I know the name is rather generic) will hold up to seven inhabitants, and the company is boasting that they already have clients lined up to board their celestial station beyond the sky.

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Bigelow Aerospace To Make The ISS Irrelevant

Posted by on Oct 21, 2010 in Space Stations, Technology | 4 comments

It looks like China won’t be the only entity making the $100 billion International  Space Station worthless over the next decade.

After successfully launching 2 inflatable space stations, Bigelow Aerospace is now adding international governments to its client list, which might seal the fate of the ISS.

Space entrepreneur Robert Bigelow, chief of Bigelow Aerospace, has been busy marketing his private space modules, an outreach effort leading to six deals being signed with clients this year.

The deals, in the form of memorandums of understanding, involve Japan, the Netherlands, Singapore, Sweden, Australia and the United Kingdom. […]

“That is what this new leasing guide is going to expose,” Bigelow said. “It’s encouraging to see the enthusiasm. They all have different reasons, different ways in which they see using our facilities — what I call ‘dynamic assets’ in the new leasing guide — to benefit them. It can change the face of a nation.” (Space.com)

Despite being built by Russia and NASA, the ISS overall has been a failure as very few nations can access its facilities and (more importantly) there isn’t much science that can be performed outside of a few notable experiments.

Renting an entire station from Bigelow will not only give countries guaranteed access to a heavenly way station, but also allow them to perform experiments that can benefit each countries respective interests (as opposed sharing everything with the rest of humanity).

Bigelow may also extend its services lunar side, which could help nations with smaller budgets to establish outposts upon the lunar surface without having to create their own facilities from scratch.

Either way the ISS is looking more and more irrelevant, and once Bigelow space stations start becoming a common sight throughout the heavens, it won’t be surprising to see the ISS abandoned to a fiery death through the atmosphere below.

(Image Credit: Bigelow Aerospace)

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Chinese Space Station: One Step Down, A Few More To Go

Posted by on Aug 19, 2010 in China, Space Stations | 0 comments

After announcing plans of creating their own space station, the Asian giant has completed its the first step (of many) in creating their own habitat beyond the sky.

China has completed assembling its Tiangong-1 space module, the Chinese Defense Ministry said on Tuesday. […]

Tiangong, or the Heavenly Palace, will later be transformed into a manned space lab after experimental dockings with three Shenzhou spacecraft due to be launched into space within two years after the module is put into space, the Chinese Space Daily said earlier. (RIA Novosti)

Although the overall craft isn’t as glorious as Bigelow Aerospaces stations or the International Space Station (which China is currently banned from), it is impressive that China is planning on launching this by 2011.

While China’s solo approach may not have been their preferred path, it’s ending up being a blessing in disguise as it could help the nation conquer the final frontier sooner (despite the global recession).

(via Space Fellowship, Image Credit: Xinhua)

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Mystery Chinese Space Stations?

Posted by on Jan 21, 2010 in Blog, China, Space Race, Space Stations | 0 comments

As any regular space geek would inform you, America’s favorite frenemy China is envisioning space stations orbiting our home world in the future.

The question everyone is asking however is when are they going to launch it–and will it be friendly?

(Space Daily) We could be less than a year away from the launch of Tiangong-1, China’s first space laboratory. We’ve been expecting this launch for years, but relatively little is still known about this mission. […]

What do we know for sure? Tiangong seems to consist of a short, cylindrical pressurized module, with not much more internal volume for the crew than a Shenzhou spacecraft. To the rear of this is a service module, containing two solar panel wings, a propulsion system and other gear. The service module has a slightly smaller diameter than the pressurized module.

Although we can guestimate the overall specs of China’s upcoming space station, we probably still do not know whether the new Chinese space station will be friendly or unfriendly (i.e. militaristic or challenging in nature).

China has made incredible strides in space in their attempt to catch up the NASA (as well as the Russians).

But until America can determine China’s overall purpose for embracing the stars, we may see a more confrontational approach later on–which could potentially translate into a second global space race. 🙂

(Image Credit: NASA)

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The Future Of Space Lies East: Chinese Space Stations Vs America's Timid Nature

Posted by on Sep 10, 2009 in Blog, China, NASA, Space Race, Space Stations | 1 comment

Image Credit: Mark Wade of Astronautix.com

(Image: a model of the Chinese space station at the Chinese Pavilion, Hannover Expo. Credit: © Mark Wade of Astronautix.com)

With the release of the Augustine Report not too long ago, there has been a flurry of outcry regarding the future of humanity, most notably from the Mars Society.

While some may lament the fall of the western space age (thanks in part to the Great Depression 2.0), others may have to look east for a new hope (pun intended).

(Space Daily) China will begin the construction of its own orbital space station in 2020, the Sina news service said on Monday, citing a top official with the country’s manned spaceflight program.

Gu Yidong said that China would sent two or three space labs into orbit in 2010-2015, while the basic module of the space station is to be orbited by 2020.

The fact that China is building a space station is hardly surprising, seeing as they are not exactly allowed on the International Space Station (due to political/security reasons).

However China’s heavenly ascent is in direct contrast to what is happening in the west, as NASA is (once again) being neutered by its bureaucratic overlords.

(Physorg.com) Five years ago, then-President George W. Bush proposed returning astronauts to the moon by 2020. To pay for it, he planned on retiring the shuttle next year and shutting down the international space station in 2015. […]

The panel also said the space shuttle should continue flying until early 2011 to finish all its space station work and that it can’t realistically retire by Oct. 1, 2010 as the Bush administration planned.

The panel called “unwise” the Bush plan to shut down the space station in 2015 and steer it into the ocean, after 25 years of construction and only five years of fully operational life. The space station’s life should be extended, the panel said.

Note: Emphasis mine

Instead of the US canceling the International Space Station (especially with cheaper and safer models coming from the private sector), our glorious government is content to spend more money ensuring that we encircle the globe for the next few decades.

While NASA does have ambitious goals of eventually establishing a moon base, it can not do that without sacrificing the “fat,” and seems more concerned with offending international partners than advancing into the heavens beyond.

NASA’s hope may lie in partnering with the private sector, but unless they receive greater backing from their political superiors, the future citizens of the solar system may be reading space history in Chinese rather than English.

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