China Has a Plan to Beat the U.S. in Space

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Astronauts Chen Dong, left, and Jing Haipeng at a ceremony prior to the launch of the Shenzhou 11. (Photographer: Li Jin/VCG via Getty Images)

 

The launch of the Shenzhou 11 spacecraft in western China last month marked another great leap forward for the nation’s space program and its ambition to send manned missions to the moon and, eventually, Mars. Yet more than national prestige is at stake: China is counting on its space program to pay huge economic dividends.

China is NASA’s biggest rival in space exploration with plans to land “taikonauts” on the moon by 2036 and Mars thereafter. Along the way, President Xi Jinping hopes the space missions will spawn a wave of Chinese innovation in robotics, aviation and artificial intelligence, among other leading 21st-century technologies. Continue reading

China stakes its claim on high frontier with launch of space lab

China has moved a step forward in its ambitious pursuit of building a permanent space station, with the successful launch of its Tiangong 2 experimental space lab into orbit on Thursday night.

Carrying Tiangong 2, a Long March 2F rocket blasted off at 10.04pm from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre deep in the Gobi Desert in northwestern China, ahead of being sent into orbit roughly 10 minutes later, according to a live broadcast on China Central TV.

Tiangong means “heavenly palace” in Putonghua. Continue reading

China Plans More Than 20 Space Launches in 2016

China has announced its busy 2016 launch manifest, with more than 20 missions scheduled for this year. The country that conducted 19 successful space flights in 2015, intends to launch its Tiangong 2 space laboratory and a manned spacecraft Shenzhou 11, among other military and commercial orbital missions.

The first Chinese launch this year will be carried out on Jan. 15, when a Long March 3B rocket will blastoff the Belintersat 1 communications satellite for Belarus. Liftoff will take place from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center, located in Sichuan Province. The spacecraft was built by the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation and is China’s first communications satellite exported to Europe.

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