Tag Archives: China

Chinese regulations sends recycling into the trash

New Chinese regulations on what is acceptable recycled trash is causing trash companies throughout the U.S. to send the recyclables into the trash heap.

In the past, the municipalities would have shipped much of their used paper, plastics and other scrap materials to China for processing. But as part of a broad antipollution campaign, China announced last summer that it no longer wanted to import “foreign garbage.” Since Jan. 1 it has banned imports of various types of plastic and paper, and tightened standards for materials it does accept.

While some waste managers already send their recyclable materials to be processed domestically, or are shipping more to other countries, others have been unable to find a substitute for the Chinese market. “All of a sudden, material being collected on the street doesn’t have a place to go,” said Pete Keller, vice president of recycling and sustainability at Republic Services, one of the largest waste managers in the country.

In other words, there is no market for recycled trash. It has no value. No one wants it. Thus, even though it sounds good and allows people to make believe they are saving the environment by recycling, it is an inefficient waste of resources, as the article notes:

Recycling companies “used to get paid” by selling off recyclable materials, said Peter Spendelow, a policy analyst for the Department of Environmental Quality in Oregon. “Now they’re paying to have someone take it away.”

In some places, including parts of Idaho, Maine and Pennsylvania, waste managers are continuing to recycle but are passing higher costs on to customers, or are considering doing so. “There are some states and some markets where mixed paper is at a negative value,” said Brent Bell, vice president of recycling at Waste Management, which handles 10 million tons of recycling per year. “We’ll let our customers make that decision, if they’d like to pay more and continue to recycle or to pay less and have it go to landfill.”

Economic realities always rule. The problem is when people create fantasies that have no connection with those rules.

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China offers its space station to the UN

The United Nations and China have signed an agreement whereby UN member nations can apply to run experiments on China’s space station, due to become operational in the 2020s.

The UN press release states that it is especially interested in applications from developing nations.

This isn’t a surprise. China is following the approach of the Soviet Union under Leonid Brezhnev during the 1970s and 1980s, using its space station program to generate positive international propaganda. This will also give them an opportunity to obtain technology ideas from other nations.

At the same time, this will force China to become more open with other nations, a side effect of Brezhnev’s space station program that was not expected or even wanted by the Russians at the time.

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China loses contact with one of two lunar cubesats

China has lost contact with one of the two test cubesats that were launched to the moon with their Queqiao Chang’e-4 communications satellite.

Though they continue to receive telemetry from one cubesat, without the second they will be unable to do the radio astronomy and interferometry experiments planned.

The interferometry experiments would have seen the observations made simultaneously by the DSLWP/Longjiang microsatellites to be combined. The test would be verification of technology for a constellation of small, low-frequency radio astronomy satellites that would emulate a telescope with a size equal to the maximum separation between the satellites.

The Chang’e-4 mission could however see some interferometry tests carried out, with Queqiao carrying the Netherlands-China Low-frequency Explorer (NCLE) astronomy instrument, and a Low Frequency Spectrometer (LFS) on the Chang’e-4 lander, which is expected to launch in November or December, following testing of Queqiao.

All is not lost. The cubesat that still functions has a camera, built in Saudi Arabia, and if it takes and successfully transmits any pictures this will be a cubesat landmark, the first interplanetary images ever taken by a cubesat.

Meanwhile, Queqiao Change’-4 is working as expected, laying the ground work for the launch of the Chang’e-4 lander later this year.

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China’s lunar communications satellite eases into position

China’s lunar communications satellite Queqiao Chang’e-4 successfully fired its engines during a lunar fly-by yesterday.

The maneuver sends the spacecraft into position in one of the Lagrange points beyond the Moon, where it can relay data from the yet-to-be launched Chang’e-4 lander.

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China, the Moon, and the Outer Space Treaty

Link here. The article speaks to the problems of sovereignty, ownership, and political borders created by the language of Outer Space Treaty, specifically illustrated now by China’s newest effort to put a lander on the far side of the Moon.

[This] pioneering space travel has raised concern that China is also interested in the tiny spots on the moon that never go dark, the polar peaks of eternal light. Those peaks are vanishingly small, occupying one-one hundred billionth of the lunar surface − roughly equivalent to three sheets of NHL ice on Earth. But their near-ceaseless sunshine gives them great value as a source of solar energy, to power everything from scientific experiments to mining operations.

Their small size could also, scientists have argued, allow one country to take sole occupancy of this unique real estate without falling afoul of the Outer Space Treaty. That agreement stipulates that no state can exert sovereignty in outer space. But it also calls on countries “to avoid interference” with equipment installed by others.

That provides a loophole of sorts, researchers say. The installation of very sensitive equipment on the peaks of eternal light, such as a radio telescope − a 100-metre long uncovered wire used to study transmissions from the sun, and deeper corners of the universe − could use up much of the available space while also providing a rationale to bar others from the area on the grounds that the telescope is too sensitive to be disturbed.

“Effectively a single wire could co-opt one of the most valuable pieces of territory on the moon into something approaching real estate, giving the occupant a good deal of leverage even if their primary objective was not scientific inquiry,” researchers from Harvard University, King’s College London and Georg-August Universitat Gottingen wrote in a 2015 paper.

Because the Outer Space Treaty outlaws any nation from claiming territory, it provides no method for any nation, or private company, to establish its borders or property rights. To protect what they own nations are therefore will be forced to create their own rules, willy-nilly, such as the one speculated above. And when they disagree, only the use of force will be available to either defend or defy these arbitrary rules.

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China launches two test cubesats to the Moon

The launch this week of a Chinese communications relay satellite to be used for its Chang’e-4 lunar lander also included the launch of two test cubesats designed to test such satellites in interplanetary space.

One of the two Longjiang (‘dragon river’) microsatellites that launched with Queqiao but set to operate together in lunar orbit, carries an optical microcamera (Arabic) developed by the King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) of Saudi Arabia.

The instrument weighs around 630 g and is capable providing images of the Moon with a resolution of 38 m per pixel at a perilune of 300 km and 88 m per pixel at the expected apolune of 9, 000 km away the lunar surface.

The Longjiang-1 and -2 satellites, developed by Harbin Institute of Technology (HIT) in Northeast China, will test low-frequency astronomy and space-based interferometry in lunar orbit. However, they also carry amateur radio payloads, meaning amateurs can send commands to take and download an image of the Moon using the KACST camera.

It seems that China is trying to compete with the U.S. in the development of interplanetary cubesats. The inclusion of an instrument developed in Saudi Arabia is also another indication that the new colonial movement in space continues to pick up steam.

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China launches communications relay satellite for upcoming lunar mission

China successfully launched a satellite in the early hours this morning designed to relay communications between the Earth and an upcoming lunar lander aimed for the Moon’s far side.

The landing site for this mission is expected to be the Von Kármán crater in the South Pole-Aitken Basin. If successful, this will be the first spacecraft to land on the far side of the Moon.

As such, a communication relay will be required to communicate with Earth. Queqiao [the communication satellite’s name] will provide that role. Launched to an eventual L2 Halo Orbit (Earth-Moon L2 Lagrange Point), the satellite will have a lifetime of five years, covering both this and potentially another Chang’e mission.

The spacecraft is based on the CAST100 small satellite platform, with commonality to the often used DFHSat system that finds its way on to a number of Chinese spacecraft. It has a mass of 425kg and uses a hydrazine propulsion system. It will transmit telemetry back to Earth via its S-band antenna, while X-band data will provide the communication path between the lander and rover.

This Chinese lander could also be the first to confirm the existence of water ice on the lunar surface.

With this launch China once again ties the U.S. in launches for 2018. The leaders:

15 China
9 SpaceX
5 Russia
5 ULA

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“Private” Chinese company successfully completes 1st suborbital launch

A Chinese company has successfully completed its 1st suborbital launch of a test rocket aimed at the smallsat market.

The news reports from China tout this company as private and commercial, and that might be so, but then there’s this:

China opened its space sector to private capital around 2015 and encouraged technology sharing through a civil-military integration reform policy, and the impacts are now becoming apparent.

OneSpace itself has received support from the State Administration for Science, Technology and Industry for National Defence (SASTIND), and has raised 500 million yuan (US$77.6m) through finance rounds, according to Tencent Technology.

The company might be called private, but it is also under the thumb of the Chinese government, which at any time can take it over or shut it down. At the moment the government is supporting its development, probably in the hope that China can grab some of the market of the smallsat boom expected in the next decade.

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The cave dwellers of China

Even as China tries to make them move out, the ethnic Miao villagers that have built homes and lived inside a cave for the past century or so refuse to leave.

Why? This explains it:

A cottage industry has popped up in which the cave dwellers earn extra money by renting out rooms in their homes, which over time have clustered within Zhong cave, a limestone cavern big enough to hold four American football fields. The hangar-like cave is so large that their wooden or bamboo-made residences form a small, subterranean village built along its undulating walls.

…Officials say that residents have not taken care of the cave, leaving it unsuitable for inhabitation, and that the government should oversee the village as it is listed as a protected community by the Getu River Tourism Administration, a local agency. They have offered each resident 60,000 renminbi, or approximately $9,500, to leave.

Only five families have agreed to move. The remaining 18 families have held on stubbornly to their homes inside the cave. They say that the new homes are too small, that they fear losing access to their land, and that they alone, because of their historical connection to the cave, should have the right to independently control its small tourism economy.

The Chinese government is simply not offering them enough to leave. And should they leave, I would expect the villagers to come out on the raw end of the deal, while the cave itself, no longer protected by their presence and financial self-interest to preserve it, will also suffer.

Hat tip Willi Kusche.

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China launches Earth observation satellite

China’s Long March 4C rocket today launched an Earth observation remote sensing satellite.

I think I need to put together an outline of all of China’s operational rockets. The 4C appears to be similar to the 4B, but knowing how it differs from their other rockets, and why they have each, would be helpful information.

The leaders in the 2018 launch standings:

14 China
8 SpaceX
5 Russia
5 ULA

China has once again pulled ahead of the U.S., 14-13, in the national standings.

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China’s Long March 3B rocket puts communications satellite in orbit

China successfully placed a communications satellite into orbit yesterday using its Long March 3B rocket, that country’s second most powerful rocket.

The article says that the Long March 3B is China’s most powerful rocket, but I think this is based on the assumption that the Long March 5 is not yet operational. Since the 5 has had one successful launch, I am counting it as the most powerful, with the 3B second.

The updated leader list for the 2018 launch standings:

13 China
8 SpaceX
5 Russia
4 ULA.

China now leads the U.S. 13 to 12 in the national rankings. I expect these numbers to change a lot in May.

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China aims to reuse vertically-landed first stages by 2020

One of China’s top space engineers said this week at a conference that they are aiming to reuse vertically-landed first stages by 2020 on a new Long March 8 rocket.

At an aerospace industry seminar on Tuesday, leading Chinese carrier rocket designer Long Lehao said that China is expected to realize vertical recycling – similar to the technology employed by US-based firm SpaceX – by 2020 at the earliest on its CZ-8 rockets. This will further lower the price tag of a launch and boost China’s chances of getting international commercial satellite launch orders, the CCTV report said.

Lan Tianyi, founder of Beijing-based Ultimate Blue Nebula Co, a space industry consultancy, said China will become the second rocket power to have this capacity, putting the country ahead of Russia and the EU. However, Lan said that while the aim of recycling rockets is to reduce costs for launch operators, whether this can be achieved remains to be seen.

The recycled rockets developed by SpaceX are reported to have helped the company reduce launch costs by as much as 30 percent, according to media reports.

“There is no way to verify SpaceX’s claim, as it is the only company that owns the technology, and China has to wait for the moment when it has successfully recycled a rocket to see whether the costs can be lowered,” Lan told the Global Times on Thursday.

Right now, the politics in China are extremely favorable for space development, with so many top posts occupied by former space managers. Thus, it seems reasonable to believe that the country is investing the cash necessary to develop rocket stages that can land vertically. If they do it, they will put themselves in a strong position for future space colonization, because such technology is essential for landing spacecraft on other worlds. Right now, only the U.S. has done this repeatedly and successfully.

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China’s Long March 11 rocket launches five Earth observation satellites

China’s Long March 11 rocket today launched five Earth observation satellites.

The rocket appears designed to compete with some of the smallsat rockets being developed by private companies in the U.S. and elsewhere.

The Long March-11 (Chang Zheng-11) is a small solid-fueled quick-reaction launch vehicle developed by the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology (CALT) with the goal to provide an easy to operate quick-reaction launch vehicle, that can remain in storage for long period and to provide a reliable launch on short notice.

LM-11 is a four stage solid-fueled launch vehicle equipped with a reaction control system on the fourth stage. The vehicle has a length of 20.8 meters, 2.0 meters in diameter and a liftoff mass of 58,000 kg. At launch it develops 120.000 kg/f, launching a 350 kg cargo into a 700 km SSO. The CZ-11 can use two types of fairing with 1.6 meters or 2.0 meters.

LM-11’s first launch took place on September 25, 2015, when successfully orbited the Pujiang-1 and the three Tianwang small sats from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center.

Update: I had initially left off Russia’s Rokot launch of a new European Earth observation satellite late yesterday. The standings below have therefore been updated.

The leaders in the 2018 launch standings:

12 China
8 SpaceX
5 Russia
4 ULA

Europe, India, and Japan are all tied at 3. The U.S. and China are now tied at 12 in the national standings.

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Asian rivers produce almost all the world’s ocean pollution

A new study has found that 95% of all ocean pollution comes from only 10 rivers worldwide, and of those 8 are in Asia.

Dr Schmidt pooled data from dozens of research articles and calculated the amount in rivers was linked to the ‘mismanagement of plastic waste in their watersheds.’ He said: ‘The 10 top-ranked rivers transport 88-95 per cent of the global load into the sea.’

The study follows a recent report that pointed the finger at China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam for spewing out most of the plastic waste that enters the seas. The Yangtze has been estimated in previous research to dump some 727 million pounds of plastic into the sea each year. The Ganges River in India is responsible for even more – about 1.2 billion pounds. A combination of the Xi, Dong and Zhujiang Rivers (233 million lbs per year) in China as well as four Indonesian rivers: the Brantas (85 million lbs annually), Solo (71 million pounds per year), Serayu (37 million lbs per year) and Progo (28 million lbs per year), are all large contributors.

The article also notes this:

More than half of the plastic waste that flows into the oceans comes from just five countries: China, Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam and Sri Lanka. The only industrialized western country on the list of top 20 plastic polluters is the United States at No. 20.

The U.S. and Europe are not mismanaging their collected waste, so the plastic trash coming from those countries is due to litter, researchers said.

While China is responsible for 2.4 million tons of plastic that makes its way into the ocean, nearly 28 percent of the world total, the United States contributes just 77,000 tons, which is less than one percent, according to the study published in the journal Science.

So, the next time you see a wild-eyed leftwing environmentalist trying to blame western civilization, capitalism, and the U.S. for the world’s pollution, please remember this study. It is the free nations of the world that have nimbly reacted well to the problems of pollution, not communist dictatorships like China or Vietnam.

I should add that the record of democracies here is not perfect by far. The rivers of India are a big contributor to this pollution. That country needs to deal with this problem also.

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China’s mysterious SJ-17 satellite

The extensive maneuvers in space of China’s SJ-17 satellite, launched in December 2016 on the maiden flight of China’s Long March 5 rocket, have satellite trackers and defense officials intrigued and concerned.

Now China, as far as we know, hasn’t done anything nefarious with this satellite. But it has approached to within “a couple of hundred meters” to an apparently dead Chinese communications satellite recently parked in the so-called graveyard orbit. That is incredibly close by space standards. (Also, that comsat may or may not actually be a dead satellite.) And, as space geeks can tell from the above chart, it has executed “proximity operations” with at least four Chinese satellites.

What does all this mean? Are the Chinese testing space war maneuvers to allow them to get close an enemy satellite to move it or disable it? Since the maneuvers to service a satellite — giving it new fuel or trying tor repair it, for example — are virtually indistinguishable from an offensive maneuver, we don’t know. We do know that Strategic Command’s Gen. John Hyten has made it clear China and Russia are building weapons that include satellites, lasers and other ground-to-space weapons. Russia has deployed three Kosmos satellites that appear designed to approach other nations satellites and destroy them. China has launched Shiyan satellites, reportedly able to use a grappling arm to move satellites.

SJ-17 could be testing anti-satellite capabilities, where either it approaches close enough to a target so that when it explodes it takes the target with it, or it grabs that satellite to take it over. Or it could be testing robot orbital maneuvering for the purpose of future satellite servicing missions.

In either case, China is demonstrating that its future satellites will have very sophisticated maneuvering systems, capable of doing any number of things in orbit.

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China finally reveals design issue that caused July’s Long March 5 failure

In a report released yesterday China finally revealed that a turbo pump design issue in one of Long March 5’s two first stage engines caused that rocket’s launch failure in July.

The State Administration for Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense (SASTIND), which oversees China’s space activities, released a report April 16 attributing the failure to a turbopump on one of two liquid-oxygen and hydrogen YF-77 engines powering the rocket’s first stage. The turbopump’s exhaust structure, according to SASTIND, failed while under “complex thermal conditions.”

Redesigned YF-77 engines have already been through hot fire testing at a site in a ravine near Xi’an in north China. The tests have verified the effectiveness of the measures taken, according to the report.

Unfortunately, the report is in Chinese, so I can’t read it. It does appear that the problem was a difficult one that required an engine redesign. That they have solved it is demonstrated by the release of this report. China’s space program functions like the old Soviet Union’s. Details about serious problems were only released, if at all, once the program had successfully overcome them

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China successfully launches three military satellites

The launch race: China today successfully launched three military satellites, using its Long March 4B rocket.

As is typical of Chinese military launches, no information was released about the satellites, and there was no publicity about the launch prior to liftoff. This launch however puts China ahead of the U.S. in total launches in 2018, 11 to 10. The leaders in the 2018 launch standings are as follows:

11 China
7 SpaceX
3 Japan
3 Russia
3 ULA
3 Europe

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Tiangong-1 reentry window narrowed to only 3.4 hours and two orbits

The sky is falling! The Tiangong-1 reentry window has now been narrowed to only 3.4 hours and two orbits, centered on 8:30 pm (Eastern) on April 1.

It appears the world might be dodging this very minor bullet. The new window, which the spacecraft has just now entered as I write this, has allowed for the first prediction on where it should come down, and it appears that this will be in the southern hemisphere in the Pacific west of South America.

Update: Tiangong-1 came down in the Pacific Ocean at 8:15 pm (Eastern) on April 1.

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Tiangong-1 now expected to reenter on April 2

New calculations of Tiangong-1’s orbit now suggest that it will reenter the atmosphere on April 2 ten minutes after midnight, give or take two and a half hours either way.

It appears that earlier calculations had expected more solar activity to push on the station. Instead, the activity was far less, so that the station will stay in orbit about a half day longer.

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Another successful launch for China today

China successfully completed its tenth launch for 2018 today, placing three Landsat-type Earth observation satellites into orbit with its Long March 4C rocket.

The leaders in the 2018 launch standings:

10 China
6 SpaceX
4 Russia
3 Japan
3 ULA

There have now been 29 launches in the year’s first three months, suggesting a pace that will give us about 120 launches total for the year, the most launches since the 1980s. Then, the Soviet Union was putting up a lot of rockets it could not afford and were not really practical. Now, we have some real competition and profits being made putting up satellites that fill a need. The numbers should only get higher in the coming years.

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Tiangong-1 reentry update

Aerospace Corporation has now narrowed the reentry window for China’s out-of-control Tiangong-1 station to 18 hours, centered at 12:15 pm (Eastern) on April 1st.

In my previous update I had misread their prediction, cutting the window in half by mistake. This new window means the spacecraft is predicted to come down anytime between 3:15 am (Eastern) and 9:15 pm (Eastern) on April 1st.

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China successfully launches two GPS satellites

China’s Long March 3B rocket today successfully launched two GPS satellites.

The launch occurred much earlier today, but China kept quiet about it until much later, when they knew the satellites had finally reached their correct orbits.

This was the third successfully launch today. The leaders in the 2018 launch standings:

9 China
5 SpaceX
4 Russia
3 Japan
3 ULA
2 Europe
2 India

These standings will change even more in the next few days. China has another launch scheduled for the weekend, and SpaceX has one tomorrow and another on Monday.

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Tiangong-1 re-entry window narrowed further

New calculations have narrowed the reentry window for Tiangong-1 to sixteen thirty-six hours, centered at 6:30 am (Eastern) on April 1.

This means reentry could come anytime during the 11 or so orbits from 10:30 pm (Eastern) on Saturday March 31 to 4:30 pm (Eastern) on Sunday April 1.

This post was incorrect, as the estimate was really 32 hours centered on 6:30 am (Eastern on April 1st, not 16. See my more recent post with an update.

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Tiangong-1 reentry window narrowed to 24 hours centered on April 1st

Tiangong-1 landing possibilities

The reentry window for Tiangong-1 has now been narrowed to 24 hours, centered on April 1st. It is still too soon, however, to determine where it will land. The map on the right shows the likeliest regions in yellow, the next likeliest in green, and areas with no chance of impact in blue.

The focus so far has been on where the surviving pieces of Tiangong-1 might land. The summary at the link notes that it also will provide an interesting fireworks display.

It may be possible to see Tiangong-1 reentering depending on your location, the time of day, and visibility during reentry which will not be known until a few days prior to the event…. Visibly incandescent objects from this reentry will likely last tens of seconds (up to a minute or more) in contrast with the vast majority of natural meteors which last mere seconds.

…Depending on the time of day and cloud visibility, the reentry may appear as multiple bright streaks moving across the sky in the same direction. Due to the relatively large size of the object, it is expected that there will be many pieces reentering together, some of which may survive reentry and land on the Earth’s surface.

The spacecraft does carry toxic hydrazine fuel, so if by some miracle a piece falls near you don’t touch it.

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Tiangong-1 re-entry narrowed to four days centered on April 1

Tiangong-1's likely landing locations

China’s first space station, Tiangong-1, is now predicted to crash to Earth in a window that has been narrowed to four days centered on April 1. The map to the right shows the station’s most likely landing areas, with yellow the most likely, green less likely, and blue not at all. Essentially, there is about a 50-50 chance the station will come down in the north mid-latitudes, with about a 70 percent chance it will land in water if it does so.

Thus, the odds of the station hitting a populated area is not large, but it definitely exists. We will not know the exact area of impact until very close to the moment the station finally comes down.

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Chinese competition in smallsat rocket industry forcing prices down

Capitalism in space: The price to launch smallsats is plummeting, partly because of competitive pressure coming from China.

During a panel discussion at the Satellite 2018 conference here March 12, executives of several launch providers said they expected small launchers under development or entering service in China, either by state-owned enterprises or private ventures, to sharply reduce launch prices in the coming years. “I think the Chinese are going to drive an order of magnitude reduction in launch costs, building satellites and operating satellites. That will happen in the next five years,” said Rich Pournelle, vice president of business development for NanoRacks, a company that offers rideshare launch services for smallsats, primarily from the International Space Station.

Pournelle said that there are already signs of price pressure on launches. “Cubesats that used to cost $350,000–400,000 to launch are now $250,000 and going down,” he said. “You’re seeing a tremendous pressure from Asia, especially, on the launch side.”

Others on the panel agreed. “I think prices will settle and start to go lower as the Chinese put more launchers on,” said Curt Blake, president of Spaceflight, which also provides rideshare launch services on a variety of vehicles. “That will put pressure on U.S. launch vehicles.”

The industry concern here is that the Chinese companies are not really private, and can be heavily subsidized by China so that they can offer lower prices than anyone else. They are therefore suggesting that the government should step in and act to protect them from this competition.

I say, the government should stay out. For one thing, U.S. law today prevents American companies from using Chinese launchers, and a vast majority of the launch business is going to come from the U.S. The U.S. smallsat launch industry will have plenty of work, and can very effectively deal with the Chinese competition without government help. Moreover, this Chinese competition will only serve to enliven the market, and bring about more innovation and lower prices. The last thing we need is the government stepping in to interfere with that healthy and free competition.

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Tiangong-1 reentry window narrowed

Tiangong-1 re-entry map

New estimates by the European Space Agency of when China’s Tiangong-1 space station prototype will re-enter the atmosphere have now been narrowed to one week, centered on around April 4.

The map on the right, created by the Aerospace Corporation, indicates the latitudes where the module is most likely to fall. Yellow is the more likely, green is less likely, and blue is no chance at all. Note that Aerospace has not yet narrowed its re-entry window, still holding it at two weeks centered on April 4.

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China launches military surveillance satellite

China today successfully launched a military surveillance satellite using its Long March 2D rocket, designed to put smaller payloads in low Earth orbit.

I think the 2D would compare nicely with India’s PSLV rocket.

The leaders in the 2018 launch standings:

8 China
5 SpaceX
3 Japan
3 ULA
2 Russia
2 Europe

The U.S. and China are presently tied at 8. Note also that I am now counting Rocket Lab as a New Zealand rocket, not an American one.

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China’s big space launch schedule

This Space News article does a nice job outlining the known schedule situation for China’s Long March 5 rocket. To summarize, it appears the launch schedule is roughly as follows:

November 2018: Long March 5 launches new geosynchronous communications satellite
Early 2019: Long March 5 launches Chang’e-5 to the Moon on sample return mission
June 2019: Long March 5B launches first test flight of upgraded and reusable Shenzhou manned capsule
2020: Long March 5B launches Tianhe, first module of China’s space station
Summer 2020: Long March 5 launches China’s first rover to Mars
2020 to 2022: Long March 5B launches two more modules to complete China’s space station

This schedule all hinges on the success of that first launch.

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