Feeds

China plans space station for the 2020s, eyes Moon trip

Weary Eagle, leaping Dragon?

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

The People's Republic of China has unveiled plans to have a sizeable crewed space station orbiting the Earth by 2020. The Chinese space agency is also looking ahead to a manned Moon mission, though no timetable has been announced for this.

Flight International reports today on the Chinese announcements, made at the International Astronautical Congress underway at the moment in South Korea.

The magazine quotes China's Manned Space Engineering programme deputy general designer Wang Zhonggui as stating that the PRC plans to assemble its space station from three modules sent up separately aboard Long March 5 booster stacks. It would remain operational throughout the 2020s, and would follow on from a smaller orbital laboratory project set to launch in 2015.

As to the moon plans, Zhonggui was reportedly cautious, saying that concept studies were underway but that no firm schedule had been set.

"The Moon is still far away for our technology," he told Flight, noting that NASA's mighty Saturn V moon-rockets of yesteryear could put 118 tonnes into low Earth orbit - enough for all the hardware required for a return trip to the Moon. By contrast the Long March 5, planned to launch from 2015, will be able to loft only 20 tonnes.

Even so, if the plans announced today come to fruition, China alone will come close to matching the combined manned-space efforts of the rest of the world. Until recently, the International Space Station - a collaboration between most of the world's advanced space-faring nations - had a crew of only three, and even now its complement is just six. China could apparently have a three-person orbital presence within six years.

America has plans to return to the Moon, and establish manned bases there, too. But these are currently mired in budget difficulties, and with the imminent retirement of the Space Shuttle, the USA will soon have no manned space capability of its own at all.

China's Moon plans may be vague, but at least the PRC will retain the ability to travel in space - and given NASA's funding problems, it's hard to say that US lunar ambitions are much more solid.

In recent times, Brits ambitious to travel in space have often tended to become US citizens and join NASA. Several have managed to become astronauts in this way. It just could be that space-happy Brits - at least those not choosing to try for a spot with the ESA - may soon start emigrating to China.

The Flight report is here, and a supplement with pictures from Korea here. ®

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Vulture 2 takes a battering in 100km/h test run
Still in one piece, but we're going to need MORE POWER
TRIANGULAR orbits will help Rosetta to get up close with Comet 67P
Probe will be just 10km from Space Duck in October
Boffins ID freakish spine-smothered prehistoric critter: The CLAW gave it away
Bizarre-looking creature actually related to velvet worms
CRR-CRRRK, beep, beep: Mars space truck backs out of slippery sand trap
Curiosity finds new drilling target after course correction
What does a flashmob of 1,024 robots look like? Just like this
Sorry, Harvard, did you say kilobots or KILLER BOTS?
NASA's rock'n'roll shock: ROLLING STONE FOUND ON MARS
No sign of Ziggy Stardust and his band
Why your mum was WRONG about whiffy tattooed people
They're a future source of RENEWABLE ENERGY
Vulture 2 spaceplane autopilot brain surgery a total success
LOHAN slips into some sexy bespoke mission parameters
Another step forward for diamond-based quantum computers
Square cut or pear-shaped, these qubits don't lose their shape
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.