Tag Archives: China

China launches communications satellite

China today successfully used its Long March 3B rocket to launch a communications satellite.

The leaders in the 2020 launch race:

16 China
10 SpaceX
7 Russia
3 ULA

The scrub yesterday of a SpaceX Starlink launch as well as the launch failure by Rocket Lab this week has allowed China to catch up with the U.S. Both countries are now tied, 16-16, in the national rankings.

Results from Yutu-2 determine “gel-like” rocks are impact melt

Chinese scientists have now published their analysis of the “gel-like” rocks seen by China’s Yutu-2 lunar rover back in October 2019, and have concluded that they are glasses produced from melt occurring during an impact.

The authors describe the material as a dark greenish and glistening impact melt breccia, measuring 20 inches by 6 inches (52 by 16 centimeters). These features are signs of possible presence of glasses, which are usually sourced from impact melts or from volcanic eruptions.

According to the paper, the breccia — broken fragment of minerals cemented together — was formed by impact-generated welding, cementing and agglutinating of lunar regolith and breccia. The material, they say, resembles lunar impact melt breccia samples returned by NASA’s Apollo missions. In particular, similarities with the Apollo samples designated 15466 and 70019 are noted, a comparison made earlier by lunar scientist Clive Neal at the University of Notre Dame. Sample 70019, collected by astronaut and trained geologist Harrison “Jack” Schmitt, is made of dark, broken fragments of minerals cemented together and black, shiny glass.

The results are not definitive, however. The paper notes that the analysis is limited by the fact that VNIS measurements were taken under bad illumination conditions and other factors.

This conclusion is not surprising, as the rover has been traveling through a region dominated by impact ejecta.

China launches another Earth observation satellite

The new colonial movement: China yesterday successfully launched a military surveillance satellite using its Long March 2D rocket, its second launch in three days.

The leaders in the 2020 launch race:

15 China
10 SpaceX
7 Russia
3 ULA

The U.S. now leads China 16 to 15 in the national rankings.

China announces target launch date for its Tianwen-1 Mars rover

The new colonial movement: According to a new report out of Singapore, China has set July 20-25 as the launch window for its Mars orbiter/lander/rover mission, dubbed Tianwen-1.

Should they meet this date, it means they will launch before Perseverance, arriving at Mars about the same time, in February 2021. And like Perseverance, this launch window closes this summer, and if they can’t meet it they will have to wait two years.

Yutu-2 travels 62 feet during 19th lunar day

According to the official Chinese press, Yutu-2 traveled another 62 feet during its 19th lunar day on the far side of the Moon.

I did not get that number from the article, which was written to imply falsely that the rover’s total travel distance since landing (463 meters) was what it did during this single lunar day. To get the real travel distance I took the total from the previously reported total travel distance and figured the difference.

If you want to be educated to the absolutely useless nature of a state-run press, put both links above in separate tabs and compare. You will discover that other than some very minor changes, the new news story is essentially a cut-and-paste of the previous. Which by the way is a cut-and-paste of the last few reports. They don’t even bother to make believe (like the leftist American mainstream media) that they are giving us some information. They simply don’t.

Do high water and design flaws threaten China’s Three Gorges Dam?

Heavy rain has caused flooding and a major overload to China’s massive Three Gorges Dam, and a Chinese hydrologist is now warning the dam, which he claims has design flaws, could fail at any time.

Rather than commenting on the validity of the images showing the dam’s warping a year ago, Wang said a more serious concern is the cracks and substandard concrete discovered during its construction. He said a failure of the dam would have catastrophic consequences for individuals residing in the lower reaches of the Yangtze River and that they should prepare for evacuation as soon as possible, reported CT Want.

In his interview with Radio France Internationale, the Chinese water expert also criticized the Chinese government and state media for refusing to acknowledge the potential danger of the reservoir. He said that scientists who have spoken the truth have been criminalized by Beijing, resulting in a society with no communication.

According to Chinese stated-owned CNTV, water inside the Three Gorges Dam continues to accumulate and has risen two meters above its flood-prevention level. Although the dam has been hailed by Beijing as one of the greatest engineering achievements in human history, its structural integrity continues to be questioned.

The dam was only completed in 2009, after decades of planning and construction. If it fails it will be a disaster for China and its communist government, much worse that the Wuhan flu has been.

China’s Long March 3B launches GPS-type satellite

The new colonial movement: China today used its Long March 3B rocket to launch the last satellite needed to complete its GPS-type constellation.

The leaders in the 2020 launch race:

13 China
9 SpaceX
7 Russia
3 ULA

The U.S. still leads China 15 to 13 in the national rankings.

Yutu-2 to resume travels after day of rest

The new colonial movement: After lunar day of no activity, China has reactivated its Yutu-2 rover on its 19th lunar day on the far side of the Moon.

The Yutu 2 rover had remained stationary during lunar day 18 (May 16-29), while teams back on Earth upgraded ground stations in preparation for the Tianwen-1 Mars mission, due to launch in late July or early August. Upgrades to the tracking and command facilities at Jiamusi, northeast China, and Kashi in the northwest were completed June 13 according to CLEP, meaning normal roving service can now resume.

While the rover has been stationary, the Yutu 2 science team have identified a nearby crater for examination. The 4-foot-wide (1.3 meters), 8-inch-deep (20 centimeters) crater contains reflective material which may be similar in nature to suspected impact melt glass the rover discovered last year. After checking out the crater, Yutu 2 will continue its journey northwest from the Chang’e 4 landing site. Yutu 2 has driven a total of 1,469 feet (447.68 meters) since setting down on the far side of the moon in January 2019.

Generally Yutu-2 has averaged about a hundred feet for each lunar day of actual travel.

Dozens of scientists forced out because of foreign ties, mostly with China

An investigation by the National Institute of Health (NIH) has resulted in 54 scientists either resigning or being fired because they had illegally kept secret their financial ties to foreign governments, almost all of which were with China.

Some 54 scientists have resigned or been fired as a result of an ongoing investigation by the National Institutes of Health into the failure of NIH grantees to disclose financial ties to foreign governments. In 93% of those cases, the hidden funding came from a Chinese institution.

The new numbers come from Michael Lauer, NIH’s head of extramural research. Lauer had previously provided some information on the scope of NIH’s investigation, which had targeted 189 scientists at 87 institutions. But his presentation today to a senior advisory panel offered by far the most detailed breakout of an effort NIH launched in August 2018 that has roiled the U.S. biomedical community, and resulted in criminal charges against some prominent researchers, including Charles Lieber, chair of Harvard University’s department of chemistry and chemical biology.

“It’s not what we had hoped, and it’s not a fun task,” NIH Director Francis Collins said in characterizing the ongoing investigation. He called the data “sobering.”

The article, from the liberal journal Science, tries to imply that there is something bigoted about this investigation because the bulk of those forced out happened to be Asian, but that is junk journalism. China itself is bigoted, and targets those of Asian ancestry for its spying. If we are to defend our nation from them, we have to accept the fact that the ethnic statistics here will not be balanced.

The bottom line remains: If you want to get an American government research grant, you cannot have financial ties with hostile foreign governments. And if you lie about those ties, than we can safely assume you are an agent for those hostile governments, and are really a spy subject to arrest and prosecution.

Chinese military officer arrested trying to leave U.S.

A Chinese military officer who had been participating in research at the University of California in San Francisco under false pretenses was arrested on June 7th as he was trying leave the country with data and information gathered during his stay.

To obtain a visa, Wang allegedly lied about his affiliation with the Chinese military, claiming his service with the People’s Liberation Army had ended in September 2016. In reality, according to the Justice Department, Wang was still associated with the military, which was paying him a stipend while he was in the U.S.

In May, Wang told his supervisor at the university that he was “being recalled to China by his employer, the Fourth Military Medical University, and that he would not return to work at the UCSF lab, thus cutting his fellowship short by approximately one year,” court documents said. Wang also informed his supervisor that he wanted to collaborate remotely from China and that he had already duplicated some of the research conducted at the California laboratory. Court documents said the duplication of research “was previously unbeknownst” to the supervisor in the U.S.

“Wang was instructed by his supervisor in China, the director of the Fourth Military Medical University lab, to observe and document the layout of the lab at UCSF in order to replicate the lab when he returned to China,” the Justice Department said.

The wisdom of the decision by the Trump administration to restrict entry of any Chinese students with ties to the Chinese military is becoming clearer and clearer.

Chinese launch and Rocket Lab scrub

Electron on launchpad, June 11, 2020

Yesterday China used its Long March 2C rocket to launch an ocean observation satellite, while also testing both grid fins and a revamped fairing. The goal of the grid fins is to control the first stage’s return to Earth so that it won’t crash on top of any homes. The fairing change is to hopefully lead to their capture and reuse sometime in the future.

Late today, or actually early on June 11th, Rocket Lab tried to do its twelve commercial launch, but after three launch tries the high winds won out and they had to scrub. The image to the right shows the Electron rocket on the launchpad. If you look close, you can see the wind whipping the LOX evaporating off the rocket.

The leaders in the 2020 launch race:

11 China
8 SpaceX
7 Russia
3 ULA

The U.S. continues to lead China 13 to 11 in the national rankings.

China’s Long March 2D launches Earth observation satellite

The new colonial movement: China’s Long March 2D rocket today launched an Earth observation satellite, described as designed to study Earth resources.

The leaders in the 2020 launch race:

10 China
7 Russia
7 SpaceX
3 ULA

The U.S. still leads China 12 to 10 in the national rankings.

China launches its new quick-launch Long March 11 rocket

The new colonial movement: China has successfully launched its new quick-launch Long March 11 rocket for the ninth time, placing two engineering test satellites into orbit.

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) 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.

It is also designed to launch smallsats, and essentially uses military missile technology to do it.

The leaders in the 2020 launch race (for the moment):

9 China
7 Russia
6 SpaceX
3 ULA

The U.S. still leads China 11 to 9 in the national rankings. That lead will widen should SpaceX successfully launch later today.

China reveals its space station launch schedule

The new colonial movement: According to its chief designer, China will complete the assembly of its first multi-module space station over a two year period beginning in early 2021.

The first module for the Chinese space station will launch next year, said Zhou Jianping, chief designer of China’s human spaceflight program, on the sidelines of a political conference in Beijing Tuesday. Launch of the Tianhe core module on a Long March 5B could take place at Wenchang in early 2021. This will be followed by a crewed Shenzhou flight, from Jiuquan, and a Tianzhou cargo mission. The first of two experiment modules will then launch for docking with Tianhe.

In total 11 launches will be conducted to complete the construction of the space station by around 2023, Zhou said (Chinese). These will be the launch of the core and two experiment modules, as well as four crewed spacecraft and four cargo spacecraft. The intensive launch plan was revealed following the successful test flight of the Long March 5B heavy-lift rocket May 5. The missions will be conducted using Long March 5B, Long March 2F and Long March 7 launch vehicles.

They will first launch in 2020 their Mars Tianwen-1 orbiter/lander/rover and their Chang’e-5 lunar sample mission, both using the Long March 5B rocket.

Unless they experience a launch failure along the way, I expect this schedule to occur, as outlined.

Let’s fantasize: If SpaceX can get Starship/Super Heavy operational by 2023 (the company’s present somewhat unrealistic goal), they could send it up to swallow the station whole and bring it back to Earth, just like a James Bond movie.

U.S. universities have pocketed $6 billion from hostile enemy countries

Our new fifth column: An investigation by the Department of Education has found that U.S. universities have taken $6 billion in unreported donations from hostile coutnries, all of which could be in violation of the law.

A probe by the Department of Education into colleges that accept foreign investments and donations has uncovered $6 billion in previously unreported foreign donations from US adversaries including China and Russia, a report said Friday.

House Republicans were monitoring the investigation into the schools to determine if they were violating Section 117 of the Higher Education Act of 1965, which prohibits an “Institution of Higher Learning” from failing to properly report foreign gifts of $250,000 or more, Town Hall reported.

It also appears that some of those universities are now uncooperative, apparently placing their loyalties more with their foreign backers than with their own country.

This evidence is not surprising, and is reinforced by the numerous arrests in recent months of many university professors taking money secretly and illegally from China. The culture in the American university community has been downright hostile to the United States for decades. In the past it was dressed up as their effort to not be jingoistic. That was a long time ago. For at least two decades the academic community has been an anti-American fifth column, working as much as it can with foreign powers to both indoctrinate its students against their own country, while providing aid and comfort to authoritarian countries like Russia and China.

China’s space station

The new colonial movement: China’s propaganda news services today released an article outlining in a somewhat superficial manner the overall design and program of its first full-sized space station, Tiangong-3.

The article does not really provide any new information that was not already reported back in 2016, except for this intriguing detail:

The Long March-2F carrier rocket and Shenzhou manned spacecraft will be used to transport crew and some materials between Earth and the space station. The Shenzhou can carry three astronauts and be used as a rescue spacecraft in emergency.

Earlier reports had suggested they would be using their as-yet unnamed second generation manned capsule and the Long March 5B for these functions. It now appears that they are planning to use both manned ships, probably beginning with the Shenzhou and transitioning to the new manned capsule over time.

The article also describes again their plan to launch and fly in formation with the station a two-meter optical telescope, maintaining it in orbit during the 10-year life of the station using crew from the station. This concept was one that NASA actually considered when it was first conceiving Hubble, but put aside when it was realized that the U.S. station would not launch in time.

Note also that this Chinese space telescope is only slightly smaller than Hubble, its mirror 2 meters across compared to Hubble’s 2.4 meter diameter. It will thus be the second largest optical telescope ever launched, and if it works will allow for astronomical research that will dwarf all the giant ground-based telescopes western astronomers have spent all their time and millions building in the past two decades, rather than launch several Hubble twins.

Yutu-2 awakes for 18th lunar day on far side of the Moon

The new colonial movement: Chinese engineers have awakened both Chang’e-4 and Yutu-2 for their eighteenth lunar day on far side of the Moon.

The report is from China’s state-run propaganda news services, so it tells us little else. Based on past reports, Yutu-2 will likely continue its slow progress to the northwest, probably traveling about another 75 feet during this lunar day.

China a major investor in World View

It appears that one of the major financial backers of the Arizona-based high-altitude balloon company World View is a Chinese investment company with close ties to the Chinese Communist Party.

World View’s long-time investors include Tencent Holdings, a Chinese tech company that operates the WeChat messaging and social media service that is among the world’s largest. And like other tech companies in China, it has close working ties to the ruling Communist Party in Beijing. Tencent has sought to expand its relations with American tech firms, a move that has raised national security concerns that the Chinese government could be surreptitiously gathering information using American technology.

Hartman [World View CEO] said that isn’t happening, noting the Pentagon’s Defense Counterintelligence Security Agency examined the company last year to ensure its work was secure from foreign interference. The agency cleared World View to handle work for the military.

Tencent has “zero access, zero input and zero control,” Hartman said.

The article at the link is focused mostly on the Democratic candidate for the Senate in Arizona, Mark Kelly, and his ties to World View with its Chinese investor. To my mind the World View links are more important, as World View under Hartman has been selling its high altitude balloons as a way to do military surveillance and reconnaissance at less cost and with more flexibility than with satellites.

Getting investment capital from China means that, despite Hartman’s reassurances, China will likely get access to this technology, either to use in its own country, or maybe even use surreptitiously in the U.S., inside a World View balloon.

As much as I really would like to see World View succeed, as long as they rely on Chinese money they should be denied any military contracts. And Kelly’s involvement as a co-founder of the company, without raising this issue himself, does suggest his focus on protecting the U.S. from foreign influence and spying is quite weak. It does indicate that he can be brought, from the highest bidder, whoever that bidder might be.

Another scientist arrested for failing to disclose ties to China

The Trump administration today arrested another scientist, this time one who took money from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), for failing to disclose his ties to China.

Dr. Qing Wang, a former Cleveland Clinic Foundation (CCF) employee, is charged with false claims and wire fraud related to more than $3.6 million in grant funding that Dr. Wang and his research group received from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

According to the criminal complaint, Dr. Wang knowingly failed to disclose to NIH that he had an affiliation with and held the position of Dean of the College of Life Sciences and Technology at the Huazhong University of Science and Technology (HUST) and received grant funds from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (CNSF) for some of the same scientific research funded by the NIH grant. As a result, Dr. Wang’s false representations and promises led NIH to approve and fund grants to Dr. Wang and his research group at CCF.

It is also alleged that Dr. Wang participated in the Thousand Talents Program, a program established by the Chinese government to recruit individuals with access to or knowledge of foreign technology and intellectual property. As a result of his admission into the TTP, China provided $3 million in research support to enhance the facilities and operations at HUST. Dr. Wang received free travel and lodging for his trips to China, to include a three-bedroom apartment on campus for his personal use. This also occurred at the time Dr. Wang was receiving NIH grant funds yet failed to disclose this affiliation to the NIH.

This is the second arrested this week, and the fourth in the past three months.

Commission: U.S. should increase its severe limits on Chinese space contacts

A new report by a congressionally-mandated commission has concluded that practically all of China’s space effort is tightly linked to its military, and that the U.S. should significantly tighten and reduce its space interactions with China, in numerous ways, to avoid that country’s theft of technology.

[T]he commission urges Congress to smack down almost any interaction by any US entity — including private companies and universities — with China on any aspect of space activities.

For example, the commission raises its metaphorical eyebrow at the bilateral research agreement between Beijing Institute of Technology’s (BIT) Institute of International Law and George Washington University’s (GWU) Elliott School of International Affairs. The two organizations signed a cooperation agreement in September 2013, and their joint study program largely focuses on the development of norms and international space governance.

The study characterizes BIT’s involvement as “actively working to shape research and promote PRC standards in international space law,” and ominously notes that GWU’s Space Policy Institute has support of a wide variety of “important U.S. defense contractors and federally funded R&D centers.”

The report can be downloaded here. It does not mince words, outlining in great detail the fusion between China’s military and all of its space efforts, while using science as a cover to develop ties with U.S. universities and research facilities.

Another professor arrested for lying about his Chinese ties

It’s an epidemic! Another professor, this time from the University of Arkansas, was arrested yesterday for lying about his ties to China while obtaining NASA grant money.

Simon Saw-Teong Ang, 63, of Fayetteville, received more than $5 million in federal funding for research projects but violated university policy in failing to reveal his ties to Beijing. The alleged deception resulted in wire transfers being sent from NASA to the school based on his alleged fraudulent misrepresentations.

He was arrested Friday and made a court appearance Monday.

He didn’t just violate university policy. It is illegal to hide such ties when doing work for the U.S. government. In fact, you can’t have them and get federal funds.

As I say, it’s an epidemic. This is the third American professor arrested since February (see here and here) for lying about their contacts with China while obtaining federal funds.

I also strongly suspect that this epidemic is not yet over.

China’s Kuaizhou-1A smallsat rocket launches two satellites

The new colonial movement: China’s Kuaizhou-1A smallsat rocket today successfully launched two experimental satellites designed to test “inter-satellite laser link technology, spaceborne digital multi-beam communication payload, and air-to-ground satellite communication.”

The quote is from the article, which appears to be nothing more than a cut-and-paste from Chinese propaganda.

The leaders in the 2020 launch race:

8 China
6 SpaceX
6 Russia

The U.S. continues to lead China in the national rankings, 10 to 8.

Long March 5B core stage returns to Earth over Atlantic Ocean

The core stage of China’s biggest rocket, the Long March 5B, made an uncontrolled re-entry over the Atlantic Ocean today, only about fifteen minutes after passing almost directly over New York City.

While the size of the Long March 5B’s core stage made Monday’s unguided re-entry remarkable, most of the rocket was expected to burn up as it plunged back into the atmosphere. Most of the rocket was made up of hollow propellant tanks, but the dense turbomachinery of the core stage’s two YF-77 main engines could have survived the fall from space.

It appears that the design of that core stage includes engines that cannot be restarted, which means every single Long March 5B launch will include a similar uncontrolled re-entry.

As a signatory to the Outer Space Treaty, China is liable for any damage or harm done by any space object they launch into space. I guess they figure they are already liable for the Wuhan flu, a falling rocket can’t make that much difference anymore.

Long March 5B’s core stage might hit the ground in uncontrolled reentry

China does it again! The core first stage of China’s first Long March 5B launch is expected to fall back to Earth sometime tomorrow or the next day in an uncontrolled reentry, and it appears that it is large enough for its denser sections to reach the ground.

The core stage is more massive than other notable satellites that have plunged unguided back into Earth’s atmosphere in the last decade, such as China’s Tiangong 1 space lab, Russia’s failed Phobos-Grunt Mars probe, and NASA’s UARS atmospheric research satellite. It’s about one-quarter the mass of NASA’s Skylab space station, which made headlines when it fell to Earth over Australia in 1979.

…The Long March 5B rocket body is mostly comprised of hollow propellant tanks, and much of the rocket’s structure is expected to burn up during re-entry. But some pieces, such as denser parts of the rocket’s two main engines, could survive the fall to Earth and hit the ground. [emphasis mine]

It is very hard at this moment to predict where the stage will come down, which could be as far north as New York and as far south as Wellington, New Zealand.

China is a signatory to the Outer Space Treaty, which states as follows:

Each State Party to the Treaty that launches or procures the launching of an object into outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, and each State Party from whose territory or facility an object is launched, is internationally liable for damage to another State Party to the Treaty or to its natural or juridical persons by such object or its component parts on the Earth, in air or in outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies. [emphasi mine]

Does China care? Apparently not. This is the second uncontrolled reentry of a large Chinese object in less than two years, since their first space station module, Tiangong-1, came crashing down in 2018. They might have had an excuse with Tiangong-1, since they lost control of it. With this core stage there are no excuses, assuming they have not made plans to bring it down in a controlled manner. We will find out in the next 48 hours.

Nonetheless, this should give us warning about their intentions in space. Though the treaty also forbids any nation from claiming territory, and they will certainly object to the Trump administration’s attempts recently to get around that restriction, I guarantee they will take possession completely of any territory they grab on the Moon or on any asteroids. It does really appear that they really don’t care about international treaties, except when it is to their benefit.

Chinese manned test capsule returns to Earth

The new colonial movement: China’s first unmanned test flight of its new manned capsule, still unnamed, ended today with that capsule’s safe return to Earth.

Before re-entry into the atmosphere, the capsule executed a skip maneuver employing aerodynamic lift in the high upper atmosphere. The technique is used to extend the re-entry time for vehicles returning to Earth from the Moon to avoid having to shed a large amount of velocity in a short time causing very high rates of peak heating. The skip reentry was used by Apollo Command Module returning from the Moon, as well as the Soviet Zond Probes and the Chinese Chang’e 5-T1.

Following atmospheric reentry, and at a determined altitude, two deceleration parachutes were opened, stabilizing the vehicle. Then, the three main parachutes were deployed, slowing the flight speed of descent. According to the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), moments before touching down the heat shield was discarded and six airbags were deployed and inflated to help it land softly.

More here from China’s propaganda press, which included this detail:

Different from the three-capsule structure of Shenzhou spaceships currently in use, the new spacecraft comprises a return capsule, which is the command center and the living place for astronauts, and a service capsule, which provides power and energy, according to the CAST.

In other words, the Shenzhou copied the Soyuz design, while this new spacecraft copied the American design used in all our manned capsules.

I have embedded below the fold a short video released by China’s state-run press, showing the reentry. That capsule sure looks a lot like an Apollo capsule. It also looks surprisingly scorched.
» Read more

China: All well for manned test capsule

The new colonial movement: A sparse report in China’s propaganda state-run press today states that the test manned capsule launched by its Long March 5B rocket on May 5 is functioning normally in orbit.

So far, the new spaceship, developed by the China Academy of Space Technology under the CASC, has unfolded its solar panels and positioned them toward the sun, deployed its relay antenna and established a relay communication link, as well as conducted autonomous orbit control four times.

It is now in a stable flight attitude in a highly elliptical orbit, with the power supply, measurements and control links normal, said the CASC.

They intend to raise its orbit three times before returning to Earth on May 8th. This higher orbit is likely intended to increase the speed in which the spacecraft reenters the atmosphere, thus facilitating one of the mission’s goals, testing the system’s heat shield. It is likely that this higher orbit will also allow them to test reentry procedures for returning the capsule from beyond Earth orbit.

China has problem with test “cargo return capsule”

According to China’s propaganda state-run news, an “inflatable cargo return capsule ” launched on yesterday’s Long March 5B rocket “operated abnormally” during its return to Earth.

That’s all they tell us. The description suggests this is not the test manned capsule launched by the Long March 5B, but the text is vague enough that it could be, since that unmanned capsule was supposedly going to return to Earth in one or two days.

At the moment I have not seen any other updates on the status of that manned capsule. If the problem was with it, this issue could delay their manned space station program, scheduled to go into full operation by 2022.

Successfully first launch of China’s Long March 5B

The new colonial movement: China today successfully completed the first launch of its Long March 5B rocket, the rocket it plans to use to launch its future manned and planetary missions as well as the modules of its first space station.

The payload was the first unmanned test flight of their new upgraded manned capsule, still unnamed. It is expected that this capsule will return to Earth in the next day or so.

China’s next-generation crew carrier is also reusable for up to 10 flights, with a detachable heat shield built to handle higher-temperature returns through Earth’s atmosphere, such as those a capsule would encounter on a re-entry from a lunar mission.

The Xinhua news agency reported the primary purpose of the crew capsule test flight is to verify the ship’s re-entry technologies, such as its heat shield and recovery system. The capsule will return under parachutes and inflate airbags to cushion its landing on solid ground.

The leaders in the 2020 launch race:

7 China
6 SpaceX
6 Russia

The U.S. still leads China 10 to 7 in the national rankings.

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