Tag Archives: Long March 7

China launches first unmanned freighter in test flight

China today successfully launched its first unmanned cargo freighter, Tianzhou-1.

After entering orbit, according to CCTV-Plus interviews with Chinese space officials, Tianzhou-1 is slated to conduct a first docking with Tiangong-2 in a few days. The two spacecraft will then have a two-month in-orbit flight to test the liquid-propellant refueling as well as the cargo spaceship’s control of the combined vehicles, CMSA officials said.

The two spacecraft will also fly separately for three months, during which time the cargo spaceship will complete its own space science experiments. Then the two will have the third docking to test the automatic fast-docking technology, a test to complete the docking within 6 hours.

This was also the second launch of their most powerful rocket, Long March 7, and the second launch from their new spaceport at Wenchang.

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China launches advanced communications satellite

China today successfully launched an experimental communications satellite, outfitted to test the use of ion engine attitude thrusters as well as ground-to-orbit laser communications tests.

The article also outlines China’s busy launch schedule in April, which will include the launch and first test flight of their Tianzhou-1 cargo freighter. That flight will test the freighter’s ability to rendezvous and dock with their Tiangong-2 test space station module. This article notes that the freighter has been mounted on its Long March 7 rocket in preparation for launch in mid-April.

Posted in the air, now past Nova Scotia and moving into the Atlantic.

I must say that I am very glad to get out of Newark Airport. Though they have recently upgraded the airport, they have done so at the cost of providing affordable services to the traveler. All the restaurants there are very over-priced, and provide tiny portions. I actually ended up eating two dinners at two different restaurants in order to get enough food, and paid almost $40 for the pleasure. In addition, the tip was automatically added to the bill. I had no choice about that, even though the service was routinely bad. (They had installed tablets at every table so that you could order by computer. Getting a waiter to provide water however was practically impossible, and when I did get one they were slow to bring it.)

In addition, there were no fast food restaurants, which I normally avoid but would have been a far better choice in this case.

Newark is part of the New York urban area, a decidedly leftwing Democratic enclave. Thus, I am not surprised that things there cost too much, provided poor service, and also provided few choices.

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China launches first Long March 7 rocket, recovers test capsule

The competition heats up: China successfully launched its first Long March 7 rocket on Saturday, the first launch also from its new Wencheng Spaceport.

According to this official Chinese report, the test capsule on the rocket also landed successfully and has been recovered.

Previously I had mistakenly reported that this launch would put into orbit China’s next test space station module. That launch is not until the fall.

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China announces four day launch window for Long March 7’s first launch

The competition heats up: China has announced that the first launch of its new medium-sized rocket, Long March 7, will take place between June 25 and June 29.

The rocket will carry the country’s second space station test module, and will inaugerate use of China’s new Wenchang spaceport.

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Long March 7 heads to spaceport

The competition heats up: The first of China’s new generation of rockets, Long March 7, is now on its way to its spaceport for its first launch next month.

The first flight of the 53-metre-tall Long March 7 will take place in late June, according to CASC’s Yang Baohua, and will test the design and performance indicators. The 600 tonne, 3.35m diameter rocket will carry a scaled-down version of a new Chinese re-entry capsule for human spaceflight, chief designer of China’s human space program Zhou Jianping revealed in March.

The article provides some good detailed information about China’s new rockets, noting that this rocket has been designed to launch manned and cargo spacecraft into orbit, making it the equivalent of Russia’s Soyuz rocket. The more powerful Long March 5, set for launch later this year when it will put China’s next space station prototype into orbit, will be their equivalent of Russia’s Proton. In both cases, however, they will be better than Russia’s rockets, more advanced and upgraded with greater capabilities.

The article also makes note of China’s new Wenchang spaceport on the coast, which took six years to build.

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China’s struggle to compete with SpaceX

This Aviation Week story provides a detailed update on China’s effort to build a new family of Long March rockets that are less expensive to operate and can effectively compete with SpaceX.

Two main take-aways from the article. First, the first flight of the Long March 7, a direct competitor with the Falcon 9, has been seriously delayed. Originally expected to fly in 2013, that first flight has apparently been pushed back to 2015.

Second, even with extensive cost savings, the Long March 7 will still cost a customer more than a Falcon 9, $70 million vs $61 million.

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