Author Topic: China's manned Moon plans  (Read 99144 times)

Offline E.P. Grondine

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China's manned Moon plans
« on: 02/04/2010 10:23 PM »
There was a topic on this over at general interest, where those with little knowledge were spouting their opinions, I though I'd start a topic header here.


Offline spacex

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Re: China's manned Moon plans
« Reply #1 on: 02/04/2010 10:26 PM »
Lots of speculation on this; nothing concrete. The Chinese currently hanve their hands full with a pretty ambitious unmanned lunar program and space station program. They are also busy developing their new HLLV. Though I can see how the next people who land on the moon might be Chinese, this is very far off by most reliable estimates - maybe by the late 2020s-2030s. Still pretty ambitious and impressive nevertheless.
« Last Edit: 02/04/2010 10:31 PM by spacex »

Offline sdsds

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Re: China's manned Moon plans
« Reply #2 on: 02/05/2010 03:31 PM »
As regards, "Anything concrete":  four years ago the People's Daily (February 14, 2006) reported on the unveiling of the logo for the CLEP (China Lunar Exploration Program).  Of particular note relevant to this thread, the logo "depicts a pair of footprints on the moon, symbolizing the dream of lunar exploration."

http://china.org.cn/english/scitech/157982.htm

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Offline Danderman

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Re: China's manned Moon plans
« Reply #3 on: 02/05/2010 03:51 PM »
The Chinese plan seems to be: launch someone every three or four years, do that indefinitely, make big noises about vague future plans, and then a miracle happens and Chinese are walking on the Moon.


Offline sdsds

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Re: China's manned Moon plans
« Reply #4 on: 02/05/2010 04:05 PM »
The Chinese plan seems to be: launch someone every three or four years, do that indefinitely, make big noises about vague future plans, and then a miracle happens and Chinese are walking on the Moon.

Yes, that looks essentially correct.  A less pejorative way to phrase it would be, "The Chinese plan is to systematically retire risk on a sustainable schedule, take pride in doing so, and rely on future technology developments to meet overall program objectives."

Doesn't it sound better phrased that way?  Wouldn't it be neat if the U.S. had a plan like that?
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Offline spacex

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Re: China's manned Moon plans
« Reply #5 on: 02/05/2010 07:10 PM »
As regards, "Anything concrete":  four years ago the People's Daily (February 14, 2006) reported on the unveiling of the logo for the CLEP (China Lunar Exploration Program).  Of particular note relevant to this thread, the logo "depicts a pair of footprints on the moon, symbolizing the dream of lunar exploration."

http://china.org.cn/english/scitech/157982.htm



That's interesting but only symbolic and probably not substantial. I would imagine many space agencies around the world have aspirations of eventually setting foot on the moon.

The Chinese seem to be going at their own pace and in no rush at all to attempt something like that. Any informed observer will realize that their program has progressed in a (very) cautious way, systematically acquiring more capabilities and experience through comparatively few missions (unlike NASA, Soviets). A prerequisite for any manned lunar mission would be very low-risk (a lot safer than Apollo). Given that, it's safe to rule out that they will approve any potentially high-risk mission any time soon.

It is in fact quite telling how no official has mentioned any plans for a manned lunar mission; yet many people outside of the country (e.g. Griffin) have conjured up very unrealistic theories about an imminent manned lunar mission.
« Last Edit: 02/05/2010 07:22 PM by spacex »

Offline Phillip Clark

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Re: China's manned Moon plans
« Reply #6 on: 02/05/2010 07:31 PM »
The Chinese plan seems to be: launch someone every three or four years, do that indefinitely, make big noises about vague future plans, and then a miracle happens and Chinese are walking on the Moon.

I have tended to describe the pace of the Chinese space programme as being like a dead snail that's super-glued to the floor.   And that goes back the their early 1970s programme!

Once the Chinese start to fly the Tiangong modules it will be interesting to see how the Shenzhou schedule changes: maybe 1-2 flights a year?

Although used as an unmanned spacelab on its first flight, the Chinese plan seems to be to use Tiangong as a cargo freighter for the larger space stations structures which will be based upon the ~20-25 tonnes modules.   Indeed, in this role, successive Tiangong freighters could be used for orbital maintenance of the future modular space stations.

Sorry, got side-tracked from manned lunar considerations there!!!

Offline sdsds

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Re: China's manned Moon plans
« Reply #7 on: 02/06/2010 04:30 AM »
As regards the pace of the Chinese space program, it has been reported that, 'The chief of U.S. Strategic Command, Gen. Kevin Chilton, told reporters Nov. 3, "With regard to China's [space] capabilities, I think anyone who's familiar with this business ... would have to be absolutely amazed at the advancement that China has made in such a short period of time, whether that be in their unmanned program or the manned program."'

http://lunarnetworks.blogspot.com/2010/01/china-space-program-shoots-for-moon.html

Assuming the report is correct, must we not take the opinion of Gen. Chilton as being that of someone well-informed?
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Offline Danderman

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Re: China's manned Moon plans
« Reply #8 on: 02/06/2010 06:00 AM »
The Chinese plan seems to be: launch someone every three or four years, do that indefinitely, make big noises about vague future plans, and then a miracle happens and Chinese are walking on the Moon.

Yes, that looks essentially correct.  A less pejorative way to phrase it would be, "The Chinese plan is to systematically retire risk on a sustainable schedule, take pride in doing so, and rely on future technology developments to meet overall program objectives."

Doesn't it sound better phrased that way?  Wouldn't it be neat if the U.S. had a plan like that?

I would agree, except for the "launch every three years" part.  There is actually an additional risk for such a low workflow.


Offline marcus79

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Re: China's manned Moon plans
« Reply #9 on: 02/06/2010 11:01 AM »
If you compare China's program to the US/Russian ones it's actually not going so slow if you think of it in terms of milestones reached.

2003: first manned flight
2007: first lunar orbiter
2008: first space walk
2011 (est): limited (Salyut-like) space station
2014 (est): CZ-5 (25 mt LEO)

Although they fly less often, the Chinese will in a few years have the same capability the USSR had in the 1970s. That includes the possibility of flying a modified Shenzhou in a Zond-like loop around Luna. I think the pace behind this is as much determined by the need to gain experience, build institutions and a team as well as the basic technologies.

How long would it take to go from this point to building up a real lunar program is what interests me. They would need a HLV, I think, so that would take maybe 7-8 years beyond the CZ-5. Then the lander and in-space transportation, think this could be done as fast. Give 2-3 years for testing it all out and they could be on the lunar surface by 2024. Maybe if they developed a crash program now this could be a few years sooner.

At any rate, Ouyang Ziyuan is the chief of the lunar program, and his primary specialism is geology:

http://www.astronautix.com/astros/ouyiyuan.htm

Supposedly he is big on prospects for utilizing lunar resources.

Offline Phillip Clark

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Re: China's manned Moon plans
« Reply #10 on: 02/06/2010 11:39 AM »

Although they fly less often, the Chinese will in a few years have the same capability the USSR had in the 1970s. That includes the possibility of flying a modified Shenzhou in a Zond-like loop around Luna. I think the pace behind this is as much determined by the need to gain experience, build institutions and a team as well as the basic technologies.

How long would it take to go from this point to building up a real lunar program is what interests me. They would need a HLV, I think, so that would take maybe 7-8 years beyond the CZ-5. Then the lander and in-space transportation, think this could be done as fast. Give 2-3 years for testing it all out and they could be on the lunar surface by 2024. Maybe if they developed a crash program now this could be a few years sooner.

The declared payload capabilities of the CZ-5 family mean that if they wanted to, the Chinese could launch a full Shenzhou on a circumlunar trip - the Soviets had to omit the orbital module to give the Zond/L-1 craft.

There has been some talk of the Chinese flying a modified CZ-5 in their literature.   This would be a tandem-staged vehicle, with the large LOX/LH stage as the second stage and the first stage being a LOX/kerosene one - rather like a beefed-up Saturn-1B first stage: a payload capability of 35 tonnes to LEO has been discussed in connection with this vehicle.

This could be used for a manned lunar landing programme.   Certainly any discussions which the Chinese have published about manned lunar landings imply the use of CZ-5 class vehicles with multiple rendezvous, not the development of a vehicle in the N-1/Saturn-5Nova classes.

Offline marcus79

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Re: China's manned Moon plans
« Reply #11 on: 02/06/2010 02:00 PM »

The declared payload capabilities of the CZ-5 family mean that if they wanted to, the Chinese could launch a full Shenzhou on a circumlunar trip - the Soviets had to omit the orbital module to give the Zond/L-1 craft.

There has been some talk of the Chinese flying a modified CZ-5 in their literature.   This would be a tandem-staged vehicle, with the large LOX/LH stage as the second stage and the first stage being a LOX/kerosene one - rather like a beefed-up Saturn-1B first stage: a payload capability of 35 tonnes to LEO has been discussed in connection with this vehicle.

This could be used for a manned lunar landing programme.   Certainly any discussions which the Chinese have published about manned lunar landings imply the use of CZ-5 class vehicles with multiple rendezvous, not the development of a vehicle in the N-1/Saturn-5Nova classes.

So presumably this would save them some time in getting the initial program started? It would be interesting to see how far they could go with this kind of approach. I remember studies from the 1990s at JSC that allowed lunar missions with one Shuttle and 1-2 Protons/Ariane 5/EELV/Titan IV class launchers. Not sure how viable they were, with the open-cockpit lander and lunar surface rendezvous with a inflatable living quarter.

Offline Phillip Clark

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Re: China's manned Moon plans
« Reply #12 on: 02/06/2010 04:37 PM »
If I can work out how to do this, I am attaching the .jpg files of a Chinese article which I have been sent which reviews ways of sending men to the Moon.   Because this was sent to me as a set of image files I have not been able to use Babel Fish or anything similar to translate what is being said.

There is also a Chimnese-originated image showing how four CZ-5s can be used for a manned lunar landing.



Offline Phillip Clark

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Re: China's manned Moon plans
« Reply #13 on: 02/06/2010 04:42 PM »
OK, only the first page of the article got posted a minute ago: it is seven pages long so pages 2-7 should be here ...........

Offline SpacexULA

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Re: China's manned Moon plans
« Reply #14 on: 02/06/2010 04:58 PM »
OK, only the first page of the article got posted a minute ago: it is seven pages long so pages 2-7 should be here ...........

That would be an article I would love to read in English.  The photos are VERY interesting.
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Offline E.P. Grondine

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Re: China's manned Moon plans
« Reply #15 on: 02/06/2010 05:02 PM »
This damn keyboard bounce is frustrating.

I noted that lack of shown fuel transfer in the 60 ton station topic. Which does lead one to wonder if China plans to use self contained station keeping/supply vessels, and if they do plan to go this route, then it may indicate their Moon architecture.

The Chinese plan seems to be: launch someone every three or four years, do that indefinitely, make big noises about vague future plans, and then a miracle happens and Chinese are walking on the Moon.

I have tended to describe the pace of the Chinese space programme as being like a dead snail that's super-glued to the floor.   And that goes back the their early 1970s programme!

Once the Chinese start to fly the Tiangong modules it will be interesting to see how the Shenzhou schedule changes: maybe 1-2 flights a year?

Although used as an unmanned spacelab on its first flight, the Chinese plan seems to be to use Tiangong as a cargo freighter for the larger space stations structures which will be based upon the ~20-25 tonnes modules.   Indeed, in this role, successive Tiangong freighters could be used for orbital maintenance of the future modular space stations.

Sorry, got side-tracked from manned lunar considerations there!!!

Offline Phillip Clark

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Re: China's manned Moon plans
« Reply #16 on: 02/06/2010 05:12 PM »
OK, only the first page of the article got posted a minute ago: it is seven pages long so pages 2-7 should be here ...........
That would be an article I would love to read in English.  The photos are VERY interesting.

The hope implicit in posting the article is that someone will be kind enough to post a translation of the bits which relate to the Chinese plans - no need to translate the reviews of other people's programmes!

Offline E.P. Grondine

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Re: China's manned Moon plans
« Reply #17 on: 02/06/2010 05:46 PM »
Aggravating keyboard bounce. A better way to think of it:

2003: Test of launch and re-entry of SZ manned spaceship
SZ-6: Test of SZ life support
SZ-7: Further test of life support, space suit, hatches, de-pressure  and re-pressure systems
2011 (est): Test of docking

CE 1.5  - improved imaging systems
CE 2 - soft landing and roving test

2015-2020
CE 3 (2017 est?) - Test of CZ5 Moon variant, Earth re-entry data test module
60 ton station or ISS participation - Closed loop life support

2020-2025
test of manned Earth Re-entry SZ variant - Zond/Apollo 8 type mission
manned soft landing and re-entry

2025-2030 (est)
operational base

If you compare China's program to the US/Russian ones it's actually not going so slow if you think of it in terms of milestones reached.

2003: first manned flight
2007: first lunar orbiter
2008: first space walk
2011 (est): limited (Salyut-like) space station
2014 (est): CZ-5 (25 mt LEO)

Although they fly less often, the Chinese will in a few years have the same capability the USSR had in the 1970s. That includes the possibility of flying a modified Shenzhou in a Zond-like loop around Luna. I think the pace behind this is as much determined by the need to gain experience, build institutions and a team as well as the basic technologies.

How long would it take to go from this point to building up a real lunar program is what interests me. They would need a HLV, I think, so that would take maybe 7-8 years beyond the CZ-5. Then the lander and in-space transportation, think this could be done as fast. Give 2-3 years for testing it all out and they could be on the lunar surface by 2024. Maybe if they developed a crash program now this could be a few years sooner.

At any rate, Ouyang Ziyuan is the chief of the lunar program, and his primary specialism is geology:

http://www.astronautix.com/astros/ouyiyuan.htm

Supposedly he is big on prospects for utilizing lunar resources.

Offline Danderman

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Re: China's manned Moon plans
« Reply #18 on: 02/06/2010 05:58 PM »
2011 (est): limited (Salyut-like) space station


There are no plans for a Salyut class space station in 2011. Instead, the Chinese plan a Soyuz-class module with limited capabilities. The Salyut class module would require the 25 ton LV.

Offline neilh

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Re: China's manned Moon plans
« Reply #19 on: 02/06/2010 10:17 PM »
Anybody else find it interesting that China's planning on a lunar landing using only EELV-class rockets, while many in this forum claim that it isn't possible to do such a thing without an HLV?

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2010/jan/08/china-eyes-high-ground//print/
http://www.transterrestrial.com/?p=24660
Quote
NASA sees China's strategy for a manned lunar landing as launch vehicle intensive. While America's notional Constellation moon project centers on a single - and still unbuilt - Ares-V "superheavy" lift booster for a direct ascent to the moon and two "lunar orbit rendezvous" operations, China will likely opt for two complex "Earth orbit rendezvous" maneuvers.

This will require four "Long March V" rockets - in the same class as the Pentagon's Delta IV heavy lift launch vehicles - to put their cosmonauts on the moon. Launched in pairs over a two-week period from China's new Wenchang Space Center on the South China Sea island of Hainan, the four Long March Vs will each loft 26-ton payloads into low Earth orbits. The first mission will orbit the rocket for the translunar journey which will then join a second payload of an empty lunar module (LM) and its lunar-orbit rocket motor. Those first two unmanned payloads will rendezvous in Earth orbit and then fire off for the quarter-million-mile journey to the moon.

Once the unmanned LM is in a stable lunar orbit, the second pair of missions will be launched into Earth's orbit; the first with another translunar rocket motor and the second with a combined payload comprising the lunar orbiting module, a modified service module, an Earth re-entry module and the manned Shenzhou capsule with three Chinese cosmonauts.
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