5 November 2007—China’s first lunar satellite began orbiting the moon today for the start of a yearlong mapping and chemical-analysis mission. The craft is the second probe to arrive in the past month. Japan’s Kaguya entered orbit on 19 October. India, too, plans a lunar mission for 2008. Chang’e-1, the US $169 million Chinese probe, was launched on 24 October from Xichang Satellite Launch Center, located in southwest China’s Sichuan Province. Designed and built by the China Academy of Space Technology, the satellite is the first in a series of three spacecraft that China will use to explore the moon; they will be launched at five-year intervals. ”Chang’e-1 will be placed into a polar orbit 200 kilometers off the surface, while Chang’e-2 will be a lander using a possible rover. Chang’e-3 will return lunar samples to Earth,” says Zongyu Yue, a Ph.D. in lunar-science analysis at the China University of Geosciences in Beijing. … [Read more...] about Chinese Satellite Arrives at Moon
China satellite launch
For the opening ceremony of the 64th International Astronautical Congress in Beijing this past September, the Chinese hosts pulled out all the stops. Acrobats bounded against a backdrop of starry skies, dancers in bulky spacesuits lumbered across the stage, and opera singers sang songs of love under a glowing neon moon. Throughout the weeklong conference, Chinese officials spoke proudly of developing their lunar exploration program, building a heavy-lift rocket, constructing a spaceport, and planning an orbital space station. As 2014 dawns, China has the most active and ambitious space program in the world. “They are having launches, and in the United States we’re in gridlock,” says Joan Johnson-Freese, a professor at the U.S. Naval War College, in Newport, R.I. “The Chinese will have a rover onthe moon, and we’re still developing PowerPoints for programs that don’t get approved by Congress.” That rover is rolling over the regolith right now. … [Read more...] about China: The Next Space Superpower
The Chinese anti-satellite shot on 12 January produced fireworks that are now branching into the non-celestial spheres of politics, national security, and space technology. I covered the issue for the general reader a few years ago (see "Taikonauts Prepare for Liftoff") for IEEE Spectrum,—where I foresaw some of these developments—and yesterday for MSNBC online (see "Bold move escalates space war debate"). This blog gives me a chance to elaborate on the more technical parts of the story. Fifty years ago this May, Russia test-fired its first intercontinental ballistic missile, the R-7, and some time later used it to launch the Sputnik satellite into orbit. The R-7 was lousy as a weapon, and the Soviets soon scrapped it. It was potent as a symbol, though, because it began what became known as the Space Race. The question now is whether China's ASAT missile is a serious weapon or merely a symbol, meant to put pressure on other countries, particularly the United States. To … [Read more...] about Is China’s Satellite Killer a Threat?
The first spacecraft designed to perform quantum communications was launched into space today, from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center at 1:40am local time. The Chinese mission, dubbed Quantum Experiments at Space Scale (QUESS), is a milestone for researchers building the technology needed to create large-scale quantum communications networks. Thanks to the fundamental nature of quantum mechanics, which is sensitive to observation and prohibits the copying of unknown states, quantum links should in principle be unhackable. Gregoir Ribordy of the quantum cryptography firm ID Quantique told the Wall Street Journal that a quantum transmission is like a message scribbled on a soap bubble: “If someone tries to intercept it when it’s being transmitted, by touching it, they make it burst.” Free of turbulent air (except for what you hit between Earth and orbit) and the … [Read more...] about China Launches World’s First Quantum Communications Satellite
The United States established its national standard for terrestrial broadcasts of high-definition digital television, known as ATSC (for Advanced Television Systems Committee), in 1996. The European Union settled on its standard, Digital Video Broadcast-Terrestrial, or DVB-T, in 1997. Japan developed its Integrated Services Digital Broadcasting-Terrestrial (ISDB-T) in the 1980s and adopted it in 2003. But China just finalized its digital television standard in late 2006, beginning transmission with last summer’s Beijing Olympics. Being late in this particular game is not necessarily a bad thing. It allowed China to take advantage of advances in information-coding technologies that make digital television in China—unlike that in the rest of the world—work well even in bad weather. These technologies mean that China’s digital television can be viewed on the go; it won’t break up even at 200 kilometers per hour—you can watch a broadcast on a cellphone … [Read more...] about Does China Have the Best Digital Television Standard on the Planet?
23 July 2007--Increasingly, tools readily available on the Internet enable independent specialists or even members of the general public to do intelligence work that used to be the monopoly of agencies like the CIA, KGB, or MI6. Playing the role of an armchair James Bond, Hans K. Kristensen, a nuclear weapons specialist at the Federation of American Scientists (FAS) in Washington, D.C., recently drew attention to images on Google Earth of Chinese sites. Kristensen believes that the pictures shed light on China's deployment of its second-generation of nuclear weapons systems: one appears to be a new ballistic missile submarine [see above image]; othersmay capture the replacement of liquid-fueled rockets with solid-fuel rockets at sites in north-central China, within range of ICBM fields in southern Russia. Kristensen, a native of Denmark, has worked on matters related to nuclear weaponry and arms control for the Nautilus Institute, in Berkeley, Calif., and the Natural Resources Defense … [Read more...] about Google Earth Pictures Open Windows on China’s Nuclear Weaponry
As we prepare for NASA’s space shuttle program to come to a close, China has unveiled its plan to create its own international space station. The China Manned Space Engineering Office (CMSEO) says the 60-ton space station will include three capsules and a cargo spaceship, and should be completed around 2020, according to China’s state-run news agency Xinhua.“The 60-ton space station is rather small compared to the International Space Station [which is 419 tons], and Russia’s Mir Space Station [which is 317 tons] which served between 1996 and 2001,” research and deputy editor-in-chief of Space International Pang Zhihao told China Daily. Despite its smaller stature, Zhihao remarked that a multi-module space station is more of a rarity and means it will require more advanced technology and resources.While the more complicated details will be left to engineers, the CMSEO is requesting that the public participate in naming the space station and cargo … [Read more...] about China to launch space station by 2020
China ticked a couple more boxes on its space-program checklist this weekend, as it gears up to send a second space station into orbit this September.On Sunday, China successfully recovered an experimental probe, which it launched on a new rocket called the Long March 7, reports state-run Xinhua News Agency. This marked the first use of the expansive Wenchang Satellite Launch Center, a new facility on the southern Chinese island of Hainan, and the first launch of the Long March 7 rocket, which has been lauded for its use of more efficient propellants. The experimental probe was being tested as a half-scale model of a crew capsule that the country hopes will transport astronauts into and out of orbit.Capable of carrying some 13.5 metric tons (30,000 pounds), the Long March 7 is the most powerful rocket China has ever built, so its successful launch is a milestone for a country that put its first astronauts into space just 13 years ago. The rocket was also fueled by a … [Read more...] about China is on track to launch a second space station into orbit in September
As institutions and governments around the world continue to push for greater hacking protections while also pursuing stronger surveillance powers, China is opting for a quantum encryption solution which could soon see it sending unhackable communications worldwide. To make this possible, it will launch the first quantum communications satellite in the world at some point in July.Quantum communication encryption is a unique method of encoding the content of a message. Much like traditional encryption, it uses a key to make that content unreadable, but unlike traditional keys which can he hacked given enough time and processing power, quantum keys simply cannot be hacked.Given the very nature of quantum mechanics, merely viewing the key itself would change its composition. As IBTimes puts it, if two people share a message encrypted by a key made up of quantum particles, if a third person intercepts it, that key will change in an unpredictable way. That not only means the message … [Read more...] about China may send the first unhackable messages with quantum encryption
North Korea’s successful launch of a weather satellite on Wednesday has sparked new concerns that the threat posed by the country is greater than previously believed. Many of also discussed whether the launch marks a breach of United Nations sanctions imposed upon the state to prevent its development of nuclear and missile-based technologies.A rocket was successfully launched Wednesday at 1 a.m. GMT, with North Korean news sources reporting that the launch was intended to put a new weather satellite into orbit (It reportedly succeeded in that aim). “The second version of satellite Kwangmyongsong-3 successfully lifted off from the Sohae Space Center by carrier rocket Unha-3 on Wednesday,” the Korean Central News Agency, the state’s official mouthpiece, told viewers, adding that “the satellite entered its preset orbit.” The Unha-3 rocket is estimated to have a range of approximately 10,000 kilometers, or roughly 6,213 miles – … [Read more...] about North Korea successfully launches rocket with enough range to reach Los Angeles