News / Asia

China Moves Toward Permanent Space Presence

Visitors sit besides a model of Chinese made Tiangong 1 space station at the 8th China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition, known as Airshow China 2010, in Zhuhai city, south China, Guangdong province (2010 File)
Visitors sit besides a model of Chinese made Tiangong 1 space station at the 8th China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition, known as Airshow China 2010, in Zhuhai city, south China, Guangdong province (2010 File)
Ivan Broadhead

China is expected to launch its Tiangong 1 space laboratory in the coming days. A country that only eight years ago put its first taikonaut (astronaut) into orbit could, in eight more years, be the only country to possess a permanently-crewed space station.

Chinese media report that the Tiangong 1, or “Heavenly Palace”, is being readied for flight at the Jiuquan launch facility in Inner Mongolia.

The module represents the first element of China’s plan to develop a manned space station, which Beijing hopes will be fully operational by 2020.

Professor Kwing-Lam Chan of Hong Kong University of Science and Technology is involved in analysis of China’s lunar program. He explains the objective of this first Tiangong mission:   

“It’s a lab for testing the connection between spacecraft: Shenzhou 8 will be sent [up] probably this year, and will be connected to Tiangong 1 for testing, but will not carry people,” he said.

State media report that China’s space program aims to enhance the country’s “progress, power and prestige”.

Under military authority, it has advanced rapidly despite European Union and U.S. embargoes on trading in defense-related technologies with China.

The Shenzhou spacecraft emerged from Russian Soyuz technology in the late 1990s. A first manned space mission for China followed in 2003, making a national hero of the taikonaut Colonel Yang Liwei.

Professor K.L. Yung of Hong Kong Polytechnic University is helping develop equipment that China will use on the Moon next year.

He suggests that while China’s space program is no more advanced those of other space-faring nations, a team of elite engineers and scientists is making incremental and cost-effective progress.

“The main reason is obviously salaries in China are not that high. The other reason is, they are developing a lot of their own components because of the high-tech embargo; it actually helps them.”

With the International Space Station, funded by Russia, the United States, Canada, Japan and the EU, slated for retirement in 2020, Yung points out that China could soon emerge as the only nation with a permanent, manned space platform.

The potential for such a strategic advantage in space, aligned with China’s ballooning defense budget, is causing international concern.

Last week, the U.S. Defense Department published its annual report on China’s military capabilities.  The report concluded that Beijing is developing “extensive space warfare technologies".

The report also found little evidence that “China’s leaders have fully thought through the global effects of employment of these strategic capabilities”.

Although Beijing insists it “opposes the weaponization of space”, India, Japan and Korea continue to play catch up with their own indigenous space programs.

However, Chan is convinced China is receptive to cooperation, on its terms:

“I am very impressed by the quality of the people on the space enterprise in China and I believe they want to collaborate, on equal grounds.”

Tiangong 1 is at least the fourth space launch China has conducted since mid-August. However, the ambitious pace of the launch schedule is now under scrutiny after August 18th, when an experimental orbiter launched from Jiuquan failed to enter orbit when the rocket carrying it malfunctioned.

You May Like

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Researcher: Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor at Symposium on Obesity, Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome says problem involves more than calorie intake, warns of worldwide health impact More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thoughti
X
George Putic
May 26, 2015 9:26 PM
Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.

VOA Blogs