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Offline Brendan

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China's Space Ambitions on the Rise
« on: January 07, 2008, 08:59:22 am »

China's Space Ambitions on the Rise

By Patrick Goodenough International Editor
January 09, 2008

( - China has announced a further expansion this year to a space program which the Pentagon has warned includes capabilities with potentially hostile military applications.

This year, China plans to launch an additional 17 satellites, 15 rockets and its third manned space flight, according to Beijing's Commission of Science Technology and Industry for National Defense, the Xinhua news agency reported.

The head of the government body, Huang Qiang, also told a news briefing that 30 new technologies would be used during the Beijing Olympic Games in August, including security and meteorological services provided by a new satellite.

The highlight of the year's space program will be the Shenzhou-7 mission, which will carry three astronauts (known as "taikonauts" in China) and is planned to include China's first space walk. It is expected to take place in October.

China says its goal is to have a manned space station by 2020. Also, in a joint project with the Russians, it plans an unmanned mission to Mars in 2009. (Russia, having lost the race to the moon to the U.S. in 1969, is keen to be the first to land a human on Mars, leading Russian space scientist Lev Zelyony told Interfax news agency on Tuesday. He said the goal could be achieved by 2025.)

China in 2003 became only the third country in the world, after the U.S. and the former Soviet Union, to send a human into orbit. A two-man mission, Shenzhou-6, followed in Oct. 2005.

Russia is China's key space technology partner. The Shenzhou ("divine vessel") manned space module is based on the Russian Soyuz capsule.

The U.S. Defense Department has closely watched Beijing's program, predicting in a 2005 report to Congress that China would eventually deploy space-based systems with military applications, and "develop a laser weapon capable of damaging or destroying satellites."

Those concerns deepened when, last January, China successfully tested an anti-satellite (ASAT) weapon, launching a ground-based ballistic missile to destroy one of its own weather satellites in orbit, more than 500 miles above the Earth.

A Chinese general told visiting U.S. Pacific Command chief Adm. Timothy Keating in May that the ASAT test was "scientific in nature."

But Keating said at the time, "an anti-satellite test is not necessarily a clear indication of a desire for peaceful utilization in space. It is a confusing signal, shall we say, for a country who desires in China's words, 'a peaceful rise.'"

Keating will next week pay a second visit to China, Xinhua reported on Tuesday.

In its most recent report to Congress on China's military capabilities, published last May, the Pentagon said the ASAT test demonstrated "China's ability to attack satellites operating in low-Earth orbit."

"The test put at risk the assets of all space faring nations and posed dangers to human space flight due to the creation of an unprecedented amount of debris," it said.

ASAT capabilities are one element of a program that would enable China to deny others access to outer space.

The report also said China's space activities had significant implications for any future possible conflict over Taiwan.

Beijing views the development of its space capabilities as a means of bolstering national prestige and demonstrating the attributes of a world power, it added.

The report also cited China's acquisition of technology enabling it to jam satellite communications and its improving ability to track and identify satellites.

China hopes to have more than 100 satellites in orbit by 2010, up from a current total of 34, which include communications, navigation, meteorological, imagery and scientific satellites.

A commission that advises Congress on security and economic policy towards China said in an annual report last November that lawmakers should urge the administration to engage China in a military dialogue on its actions and programs in space warfare.

It also recommended that Congress ensure that the Pentagon and NASA have programs to provide access to space, protect space-based assets, and maintain adequate defense measures such as those required for rapid replacement of destroyed assets in space.


Offline Brendan

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Qian Xuesen Laid Foundation For China's Space Rise (Aviation Week)
« Reply #1 on: January 09, 2008, 10:04:30 pm »

Qian Xuesen Laid Foundation For China's Space Rise

Jan 6, 2008

By Bradley Perrett
Nothing in aviation or space in 2007 represented a greater change in the status quo than China’s ascendancy to the first rank of space powers. China had proven its mettle four years earlier by becoming only the third member of the elite club of nations capable of flying humans in space. But in 2007, it accomplished two more feats, proving to the world that it’s a space player to be reckoned with across the board.

In January, China destroyed one of its own spacecraft with a ground-launched missile, shattering the aging weather satellite. Then in October, China launched its first planetary mission, sending a scientific probe to the Moon (see p. 59).

The man who laid the foundation for these achievements is a brilliant scientist who worked for the U.S. military on advanced rocket projects in the 1940s and helped found the Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology. Then, in a remarkably short-sighted move, the U.S. sent this man back to China with all his skills and knowledge of American secrets. With McCarthyism in full bloom, the scientist was deported on dubious charges of being a Communist.

That man is Qian Xuesen. And he became the father of the Chinese space program. (The name, sometimes spelled Tsien Hsue-shen, is pronounced chien shu-eh sen.)

The antisatellite (Asat) test demonstrated an ability—based on advanced sensors, tracking and precise trajectory control technologies—which had previously belonged only to the U.S. and Russia.

The Asat’s warhead, launched by a ballistic missile, intercepted its satellite target nearly head-on, creating an extremely high closing velocity that multiplied the challenges in this test and served to underscore the leap in Chinese technology.

The test was condemned worldwide as the largest instance of space pollution in history. Thousands of new pieces of debris, more than 900 of them large enough (10 cm.) to be tracked by ground radars, were suddenly in orbit. They threaten low orbiting satellites of all nations, including the International Space Station. The amount of space junk hurtling around the planet, accumulated in the 50 years since Sputnik, had shot up by 10% in an instant.

Worse, because the target satellite, at 860 km. (535 mi.), was fairly high, some fragments will take at least a century to be slowed down and brought back to Earth by the few molecules of atmosphere at that level.

China has not explained why, even if it felt it had to conduct the test, it did not use a specially built low-mass target that might have been blasted away at a lower altitude, leaving a smaller debris cloud of shorter duration. Soviet and U.S. Asat tests ended in the 1980s, when far fewer satellites were in low orbit and the dangers of space junk correspondingly lower.

While China’s space program began 2007 with a spectacular bang, it ended the year with a more peaceful, but still remarkable, achievement—when the country became the first developing nation to launch a spacecraft into lunar orbit.

The Chang’e 1 spacecraft is not in itself the main achievement. The platform is based on a communications satellite that China has been building for years. Rather, China has shown its greatest progress in mastering the challenge of tracking, telemetry and control technology needed to send a probe into deep space.

As with the Asat test, the message was that China had joined the front rank of space powers.

Qian Xuesen is not our Person of the Year because he personally directed these efforts. Now 96 years old and in poor health, he has not been active in the Chinese space program for many years. Rather, it’s because he, more than anyone, is credited with the leading role in creating the scientific and industrial complex that’s now reaching these heights of achievement.

He began to create it, in 1956, from almost nothing.

At the time, his Chinese colleagues knew little about rocket propulsion. His personal book collection became a key resource. And his first research institute had only one telephone.

“First we recognized that the pressing problem was to teach, not immediately to do independent research,” he later wrote. Fortunately, the Soviets gave crucial help for a few years.

The U.S. author Iris Chang, whose 1995 biography Thread of the Silkworm remains a leading source for information about Qian, wrote: “It was he who initiated and oversaw programs to develop some of China’s earliest missiles, the first Chinese satellite, missile tracking and control telemetry systems, and the infamous Silkworm [anti-ship] missile.

“And it was he who helped turn systems engineering into a science in China, by working out a management structure that would facilitate communication between tiers of experts with a minimum of confusion and bureaucracy.”

Spurred on by Qian, the Chinese moved from copying a Soviet R-2 (SS‑2) missile, itself a development of the German A-4 (V-2) of World War II, to building a succession of progressively larger domestic designs, including the Dongfeng 4 ballistic missile, whose three-stage space launch version, Long March 1, put the first Chinese satellite into orbit in 1970.

Chang’e 1 was launched by a Long March 3A rocket, a development of the Dongfeng 5, for which research began as early as 1965.

“He’s the father of our space industry,” the head of China’s lunar program, Luan Enjie, once told U.S. journalist Michael Cabbage. “It’s difficult to say where we would be without him.”

The story of how China got Qian back from the U.S. has been told many times, not least in the early 1950s, when it was current news. But it’s a fascinating story, and is well worth retelling as we watch China’s latest strides forward.

Qian was born in 1911, in the last weeks of Chinese imperial history, and at 23 traveled to the U.S. on a scholarship to study aeronautical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Preferring theory to the practice that MIT then emphasized, he soon moved to Caltech and began to follow a path that would lead to his becoming one of the most eminent rocket scientists in the U.S.

While his own country was racked by political division, invasion by Japan and, finally, civil war, Qian became a star pupil of the director of Caltech’s Guggenheim Aeronautical Laboratory, the Hungarian-American engineer and physicist Theodore von Karman. Still in his 20s, Qian became involved in experiments in rocketry, a field that at that time, the late 1930s, was barely taken seriously.

But the U.S. Army Air Corps did begin to take it seriously in 1939, tasking Caltech, including Qian, to develop rockets to help bombers take off. As so often with rocket propulsion, the concept of what soon came to be called jet-assisted takeoff, or JATO, looks simple. Getting it to work led the team deeper into the struggle with propellants and combustion stability that helped make “rocket science” a byword for extreme technical challenge.

The 1943 discovery of German rocket activity resulted in acceleration in U.S. work and, at Caltech, the creation of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, with Qian as a section leader directing research for Private A, the first U.S. solid-propellant missile to perform successfully.

The force that propelled Qian to the heights of the U.S. military technology establishment was the sudden realization of the potential of jet propulsion, including rockets. Almost ignored in the late 1930s, the technology rose by 1944 to first-rank development importance amid the largest war in history.

By early 1945, Qian was in the Pentagon with a high-grade security clearance and writing reports on the latest classified technology nationwide and its implications for future military development.

As a member of the U.S. technical mission that scoured Germany for secrets at the end of the war, he interrogated Wernher von Braun. No one then knew that the father of the future U.S. space program was being quizzed by the father of the future Chinese space program.

Von Karman vouched for Qian to join the Scientific Advisory Board, set up to advise the head of the Air Force. “At the age of 36, he was an undisputed genius whose work was providing an enormous impetus to advances in high-speed aerodynamics and jet propulsion,” von Karman later wrote, explaining the move.

In 1949, Qian described his idea for a spaceplane, a winged rocket that’s credited as an inspiration for the late 1950s Dyna-Soar project, itself an ancestor of the space shuttle.

Then his U.S. career suddenly unraveled. In 1950, as Sen. Joseph McCarthy (R-Wis.) raged against supposed widespread Communist infiltration of the U.S. government and with China now Communist, the authorities revoked Qian’s security clearance.

Iris Chang wrote that the Immigration and Naturalization Service had not a scrap of concrete evidence for its charge that Qian was a Communist.

But the government did have some evidence, even if it was far from concrete. And the U.S. had clearly found itself in a sticky situation with Qian. When China was a U.S. ally, any feelings of patriotism he might have had could do little harm to the U.S. But now that China was hostile, was it reasonable to let him learn more U.S. secrets? Maybe. He was seeking U.S. citizenship at the time.

Apparently insulted, Qian first responded to the loss of his security clearance by trying to return to China, but he was stopped by the government, which wanted to keep his knowledge of U.S. secrets inside the U.S. Then both sides changed their minds. The immigration service sought to deport him, regardless of the fears of other agencies, and Qian tried to stay, apparently determined to clear his name.

Qian’s attempt to stay almost certainly proves he wasn’t, in fact, interested in working for China. By that time he could have best done so by going home with his expertise and U.S. secrets. Without a security clearance, it was unlikely he could achieve much for China by staying in the U.S.

“It was the stupidest thing this country ever did,” said Undersecretary of the Navy Dan Kimball, who tried to keep Qian in the U.S. “He was no more a Communist than I was, and we forced him to go.”

The immigration service won its case against Qian, but the government still hesitated to send him back. After years in limbo, the scientist himself decided again to go home and sought help to do so from the Chinese government, which secured U.S. agreement as part of negotiations over Korean War prisoners.

China, of course, was delighted to have him back. It welcomed him as a hero when he was finally deported in 1955.

His reluctant return was hardly a patriotic act, but that was, and still is, overlooked in the official Chinese view of history. As recently as 2003, the Xinhua news agency, recounting his story, reported blandly: “In 1955, six years after the founding of New China, Qian Xuesen returned to the motherland.”

Another fact that’s ignored in China is that he gave bad scientific advice on agricultural yields that may have encouraged Chairman Mao Zedong’s disastrous 1958-61 Great Leap Forward economic policy, which led to perhaps 20 million people dying of starvation.

It turned out that some of the U.S. fears of sending Qian back may have been exaggerated. First, the secrets that he knew were at least five years old by the time of his return, and that was an era of rapidly changing technology.

Second, no single scientist or engineer can have more than a fraction of the knowledge needed to design space launchers or missiles. So he could only be a leader, not a one-man rocket builder. Indeed, his role turned out to be that of administrator of the Chinese space program. Moreover, Chang wrote that in many cases he told his questioning comrades that the technical answers they needed had already been published; they needed only to look up the right book, often an American one.

Finally, while he achieved great things for China as an administrator, those results again probably ended up serving U.S. interests, because China became an adversary of the Soviet Union within about five years of his return. Missiles built by the scientific-industrial complex he created were sent to the west of the country to bring Moscow in range.

But if China is now a strategic rival to the U.S., then his achievements are now more important than ever—especially as the Chinese economy moves relentlessly toward front and center on the world stage. Hence the continuing relevance of this very old man.

Online TahoeBlue

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Re: China's Space Ambitions on the Rise
« Reply #2 on: June 12, 2013, 01:10:19 pm » front:network-front main-3 Main trailblock:Network front - main trailblock:Position16
Chinese spacecraft blasts off from Gobi desert
Shenzhou 10 takes three astronauts to experimental space laboratory where they will give a lecture to students on Earth

Beijing, Tuesday 11 June 2013 07.44 EDT   

A Chinese-manned spacecraft has blasted off with three astronauts on board for a 15-day mission to an experimental laboratory, the latest step towards the development of a space station.

The Shenzhou 10 launched from the Gobi desert in China's far west on Tuesday morning. Once in orbit, it will dock with the Tiangong (Heavenly Palace) 1, a trial space laboratory module, and the astronauts, one of whom is female, will test the module's systems. They will also give a lecture to students on Earth.

China carried out its first manned docking exercise with Tiangong 1 last June, a milestone in its efforts to acquire the technological and logistical skills to run a full space station that can house people for long periods.

President Xi Jinping attended the latest launch and wished the astronauts success. "You are the pride of the Chinese people, and this mission is both glorious and sacred," he said.

The mission will be the longest time Chinese astronauts have spent in space, and marks the second such voyage for Nie Haisheng, the lead astronaut.

It is China's fifth manned mission since 2003, and was accompanied by the usual outpouring of national pride and Communist party celebrations, including children waving off the trio at the space centre.


The Long March 2-F rocket fires, loaded with the Shenzhou 10. Photograph: Reuters
Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth: therefore despise not thou the chastening of the Almighty: For he maketh sore, and bindeth up: he woundeth, and his hands make whole ; He shall deliver thee in six troubles: yea, in seven there shall no evil touch thee. - Job 5

Offline Sasha

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Inside China's High-Tech Space-Based Laser Arsenal
« Reply #3 on: March 17, 2017, 12:32:45 pm »
Inside China's High-Tech Space-Based Laser Arsenal
Mar 13, 2017 - Staff Writers - New Delhi (Sputnik)

In an effort to counteract a network of US navigation, intelligence, and communication satellites capable of unmatched precision strikes, China is developing its own arsenal of electromagnetic railguns, powerful microwave weapons, and high-powered lasers. This weaponry could feature in future space-based 'light war' satellite attacks.

Researchers, Zeng Yu-quang, Wang Zhi-hong, and Gao Ming-hui first wrote about the notion of a space-based laser weapon in 2013 in the Chinese Optics journal. All three scientists work for leading laser-weapons technology organization the Institute for Optics, Fine Mechanics and Physics.

"In future wars," they wrote, "the development of ASAT [anti-satellite] weapons is very important...Among those weapons, laser attack system enjoys significant advantages of fast response speed, robust counter-interference performance and a high target destruction rate, especially for a space-based ASAT system. So the space-based laser weapon system will be one of the major ASAT development projects."

If Beijing's military, which oversees the country's space program, provides the funding for the scientists' proposed five-ton chemical laser, it could be operational by 2023. The weapon would be capable of destroying enemy satellites in orbit from its position in lower Earth orbit.

A ground-based radar would be used to identify a target satellite, according to the article, with precise targeting ensured by a special camera. The beam of the laser would be focused by a membrane telescope.

The article revealed that, "In 2005, we have successfully conducted a satellite-blinding experiment using a 50-100 kilowatt capacity mounted laser gun in Xinjiang province...The target was a low orbit satellite with a tilt distance of 600 kilometers. The diameter of the telescope firing the laser beam is 0.6 meters wide. The accuracy of [acquisition, tracking and pointing is less than 5 [microradians]."

While giving congressional testimony last month before Congress, China military-specialist Richard Fisher, from the International Assessment and Strategy Center, confirmed that China had a laser weapons program and warned that Beijing could be rapidly militarizing space.

Asia Times quoted Fisher saying, "The Chinese government would not hesitate to use the lives of its astronauts as a shield to deceive the world about the real purpose of its space station,"and, "Having gained the advantage of surprise, the combat space station could begin attacks against key US satellites, thus blinding the US to the launch of new combat satellites that would attack many more US satellites."
Morality is contraband in war.
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