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DRAGON SPACE
No Storm for Tiangong 2
by Morris Jones
Sydney, Australia (SPX) Sep 14, 2016


File image.

As the launch window for China's Tiangong 2 space laboratory approaches, everything seems to be going well. That's not a definitive conclusion, but it's consistent with every official statement we have been given, and everything we can deduce. One of the least predictable factors in any rocket launch is weather, but we have no reason to believe that this will be a problem for Tiangong. That's just as well. Elsewhere in China, a massive typhoon is ready to cause havoc.

Tiangong 2 will launch from China's Jiuquan launch site, which is far inland. An inland launch site poses some disadvantages for the delivery of rockets and the trajectories they can fly, but it also offers certain advantages.

Typhoons can't reach them. Stormy weather has been a problem for coastal launch sites elsewhere in the world, even when rockets are not poised for flight. They can sometimes damage infrastructure at the launch site, or postpone the rollout of rockets for launch.

China will face such problems in the future as it operates its new launch site at Wenchang on Hainan Island. This new spaceport is closer to the equator than any other Chinese site, allowing heavier payloads to be launch.

Large rockets can be transported to the site by barge. Rockets fly over the ocean, well away from people and property. But the site will occasionally experience stormy weather. Exactly how this will influence operations is something nobody can predict at this time.

China will continue to operate its launch site at Jiuquan after Wenchang opens. It's still useful for certain trajectories and missions. In the future, we may see even more respect for this venerated launch site purely because of its immunity from typhoons.

For the moment, China's space program won't be affected. Let's hope the rest of China weathers the coming storm with minimal effects.

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.

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China National Space Administration
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