What Is China Doing In Space?

How Powerful is China. . . ’s Space Program?. . . I watch a lot of Seeker Daily. Greetings friends from around the world, Julian
here for DNews. Now, I’m not at liberty to tell you exactly
where the DNews bunker is but suffice it tosay that it’s in the United States. As such that tends to influence what we talk
about, like most of our space stories usuallyfocus on what the US Space Agency NASA is
up to. But NASA is far from the only space program
out there, so we thought we’d make a seriesof episodes exploring and appreciating the
efforts of other countries, and first up isChina. China’s national space administration is
called the…. China National Space Administration, or CNSA
for short. Founded in 1993, it’s a relatively new player
on the space scene, but it’s grown by greatleaps and bounds since its inception. China is only the third country to independently
send astronauts into space, after Russia andthe United States. So far they’ve sent 10 up there, and even
put there own space station into orbit in2011, the Tiangong-1. I’m sure I’m not pronouncing that right;
if you speak Mandarin, please bear with me. Tiangong-1 served as a space lab and a way
to test docking capabilities. Two manned crews visited the space station,
but since 2013 it’s been all by its lonesome. In March of 2016 it stopped sending data back
to earth, and in September, CNSA announcedit would come down some time in the second
half of 2017. This vague time frame has lead some to conclude
that China has no control over the descentof Tiangong-1, and while most of it will probably
burn up upon reentry, some of the denser parts,like rocket engines, could make it through. What with the earth being mostly covered in
water, it’s probably going to land in anocean, but just in case, maybe keep one eye
on the sky starting June 2017. Still, CNSA insists that the space station
was only designed to last 2 years, so makingit to 2017 is a huge success. The same month they sort-of announced Tiangong-1
was just going to do it’s own thing, CNSAsuccessfully launched Tiangong-2. Their second space station has improved living
quarters and life support, and the first mannedmission to it is scheduled to last 30 days,
while the longest one to Tiangong-1 was just12 days. China’s goal is to have it’s own large
space station by the early 2020s. You may be wondering why they don’t shack
up with the rest of the world’s astronautsaboard the ISS. Unfortunately some borders in space are still
defined by the ones down on Earth. In 2011 US legislators banned NASA from collaborating
with the CNSA, citing fears of espionage. With NASA’s hands tied and the ISS locking
the doors, China has had to go it alone, andhas responded magnificently. China’s not solely focused on putting men
and women into orbit; they’ve also launchedscientific satellites to study space weather
and look for dark matter. More satellites are planned to look for black
holes and study solar wind. China has been collaborating with the European
Space Agency on some of these satellites since2003 in an effort to build international relations. They’ve
also sent their own probes, a telescope, anda rover to the moon, and plan to send the
first ever rover to the far side of the moon. First, though, they’ll have to set up a
communications satellite at a lagrange pointso the rover can still talk to Earth. They aren’t going to stop at the moon though,
and have announced a plan to probe and roveMars by the 2020s. CNSA may be a comparatively young space program,
but they are ambitious and their achievementsso far are impressive. China is considering using their space program
to mine the moon for nuclear fuel. How you ask?I answer that here. We want to do a whole series on space programs
from around the world. What’s the next one you think we should
cover?Let us know in the comments and subscribe
for more DNews.

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