Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
. 24/7 Space News .




DRAGON SPACE
China's Space Laboratory Still Cloaked
by Morris Jones for SpaceDaily.com
Sydney, Australia (SPX) Mar 10, 2015


File image.

The recent release of another update on Tiangong 2, China's next space laboratory, has prompted a lot of attention. A recent tightening of Chinese media policies has made this relatively obscured program even more difficult to decipher, and anything we get through official channels is examined closely. We are starving for more information, but sadly, China's latest serving offers little more than crumbs.

China has essentially confirmed that Tiangong 2 is generally on-track. That's probably the most important lesson from the slim media release that circulated in China's state-run media. Tiangong 2 is still set to launch at some time in 2016.

It will receive a crewed visit from the Shenzhou 11 spacecraft, and then a docking with China's first cargo supply spacecraft, Tianzhou 1. Ironically, the cargo spacecraft is larger than the Tiangong laboratory itself. But that's understandable. Tianzhou is really designed to service the large future Chinese Space Station, which also seems to be on track in its development.

Tianzhou will need the new Long March 7 vehicle to carry it to orbit. The underlying message is that Long March 7 must also be on-track in its own development.

This is all reassuring, but we have known the overall mission plan for a long time. A lot of questions remain unanswered.

The most curious technical question concerns the flight of the Tianzhou cargo spacecraft. It will rendezvous and dock with the Tiangong laboratory after its single crew has gone home. Thus, there is no real need for it to deliver logistics to the laboratory. Apart from testing docking, will anything useful be done?

This analyst is really starting to suspect that not much else will happen with Tianzhou. Simply getting a new spacecraft to fly, change orbit, then dock is probably enough for its first flight. We have seen this before with the test flight of Shenzhou 8, which flew without a crew to Tiangong 1.

China has spoken of Tianzhou as a fuel resupply spacecraft. This could well happen with the Chinese Space Station, but will anything be done with Tiangong 2?

It's possible, but this analyst is tipping the balance towards the negative. Tiangong 2 is a tiny laboratory module, using the same basic design as Tiangong 1. It's possible that it's been refitted with a refuelling system, but it's also possible that this would be too much, too soon. Tiangong 2 already features an improved life-support system. This could be enough change and enough progress for the moment.

Then again, it would make a lot of sense to test this complex and dangerous procedure on an expendable test vehicle. That could tip the balance in favour of a test on Tiangong 2, possibly using an inert liquid in place of real hypergolic fuel and oxidiser.

So how much have we really learned from China? Overall, the Tiangong 2 saga remains largely cloaked in mystery. A key lesson is that China seems determined to keep it that way for the moment.

Dr Morris Jones is an Australian space analyst who has written for spacedaily.com since 1999. Email morrisjonesNOSPAMhotmail.com. Replace NOSPAM with @ to send email. Dr Jones will answer media inquiries.


Thanks for being here;
We need your help. The SpaceDaily news network continues to grow but revenues have never been harder to maintain.

With the rise of Ad Blockers, and Facebook - our traditional revenue sources via quality network advertising continues to decline. And unlike so many other news sites, we don't have a paywall - with those annoying usernames and passwords.

Our news coverage takes time and effort to publish 365 days a year.

If you find our news sites informative and useful then please consider becoming a regular supporter or for now make a one off contribution.

SpaceDaily Contributor
$5 Billed Once


credit card or paypal
SpaceDaily Monthly Supporter
$5 Billed Monthly


paypal only

.


Related Links
Chinese Space News
The Chinese Space Program - News, Policy and Technology
China News from SinoDaily.com






Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News





DRAGON SPACE
China at technical preparation stage for Mars, asteroid exploration
Beijing (XNA) Mar 05, 2015
China has been researching the technical feasibility of exploring Mars and asteroids, a top space scientist and national political advisor revealed on Tuesday. Ye Peijian, from the China Academy of Space Technology and chief scientist with the country's lunar probe mission, said Chinese space researchers had tackled some of the technical difficulties associated with the exploration of Mars ... read more


DRAGON SPACE
Core work: Iron vapor gives clues to formation of Earth and moon

Application of laser microprobe technology to Apollo samples refines lunar impact history

NASA releases video of the far side of the Moon

US Issuing Licenses for Mineral Mining on Moon

DRAGON SPACE
Use of Rover Arm Expected to Resume in a Few Days

Research Suggests Mars Once Had More Water than Earth's Arctic Ocean

Mars Colonization Edges Closer Thanks to MIT's Oxygen Factory

Revolutionary Engine Could Fuel Human Life on Mars

DRAGON SPACE
Orion's Launch Abort System Motor Exceeds Expectations

Cheap yen, fading Fukushima fears lure Japan tourists

Dubai to build 'Museum of the Future'

Old-economy sectors are now tech, too: US study

DRAGON SPACE
China at technical preparation stage for Mars, asteroid exploration

China's moon rover Yutu functioning but stationary

Argentina welcomes first Chinese satellite tracking station outside China

More Astronauts for China

DRAGON SPACE
US astronauts speed through spacewalk at orbiting lab

Watching Alloys Change from Liquid to Solid Could Lead to Better Metals

NASA Hopes to Continue Cooperation on ISS Until 2024

Russia to use International Space Station till 2024

DRAGON SPACE
Arianespace's Soyuz ready for next dual-satellite Galileo launch

Soyuz Installed at Baikonur, Expected to Launch Wednesday

Arianespace certified to ISO 50001 at Guiana Space Center

SpaceX launches two communications satellites

DRAGON SPACE
Scientists: Nearby Earth-like planet isn't just 'noise'

Exorings on the Horizon

Planet 'Reared' by Four Parent Stars

Planets Can Alter Each Other's Climates over Eons

DRAGON SPACE
The rub with friction

3D printed parts provide cheap, custom alternatives for lab equipment

Game makers lured into virtual worlds

Sony virtual reality head gear set for 2016 release




The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement All images and articles appearing on Space Media Network have been edited or digitally altered in some way. Any requests to remove copyright material will be acted upon in a timely and appropriate manner. Any attempt to extort money from Space Media Network will be ignored and reported to Australian Law Enforcement Agencies as a potential case of financial fraud involving the use of a telephonic carriage device or postal service.