Author Topic: China's manned Moon plans  (Read 91564 times)

Offline spacex

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Re: China's manned Moon plans
« Reply #20 on: 02/06/2010 10:26 PM »
This is clearly only fantasy. You can tell the author, Tkacik, is really trying to hype up their capabilities and not taking into consideration that they do not have the political will do undertake such a thing.

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.
« Last Edit: 02/06/2010 10:30 PM by spacex »

Offline Patchouli

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Re: China's manned Moon plans
« Reply #21 on: 02/06/2010 10:29 PM »
Interesting but wouldn't Shenzhou need serious upgrades to perform chase down of the ascent vehicle and TEI?
TEI on Apollo was around 1,076 m/s while Shenzhou I belive only has a delta V of about 400m/s.

Offline blackjack

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Re: China's manned Moon plans
« Reply #22 on: 02/07/2010 01:55 AM »
Nearly everyone knows the three steps of Chinese lunar mission--tracking, landing, returning. But few people knows the "big" three steps--probing, landing(manned), quartering. 

Offline blackjack

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Re: China's manned Moon plans
« Reply #23 on: 02/07/2010 02:00 AM »
CZ-5 will not be used in manned lunar mission. According to the report of CNSA, two kind of new engines will be developed. One is 500t(sea level) kerosene engine and another one is 150t(sea level) H/O engine, I think they will be used for manned moon plans. A intersting thing is it seems they are staged combustion cycle according to the paper.
« Last Edit: 02/07/2010 02:03 AM by blackjack »

Online Phillip Clark

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Re: China's manned Moon plans
« Reply #24 on: 02/07/2010 02:10 AM »
CZ-5 will not be used in manned lunar mission. According to the report of CNSA, two kind of new engines will be developed. One is 500t(sea level) kerosene engine and another one is 150t(sea level) H/O engine, I think they will be used for manned moon plans. A intersting thing is it seems they are staged combustion cycle according to the paper.

And your Chinese source for making such an authoritative statement about the non-use of the CZ-5 in the Chinese manned lunar programme is ............. ?   Of course you contradict yourself when your first and third sentences are compared.

In the plan as outlined (and of course it could change drastically over the next 10-15 years) the lunar Shenzhou would only have to perform LOR with the lander's ascent stage and TEI - rather like the Soyuz with a beefed up service/instrument module for the L-3 programme.   So, why cannot the Chinese simply do as the Soviets planned to do?

Offline E.P. Grondine

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Re: China's manned Moon plans
« Reply #25 on: 02/07/2010 02:21 AM »
This is clearly only fantasy. You can tell the author, Tkacik, is really trying to hype up their capabilities and not taking into consideration that they do not have the political will do undertake such a thing.

China's space leadership presented both their intermediate Moon goals and long term Moon goals for the 2000 planning process. We are watching China's approved total plan being implemented now.

The next big decision point will be for the 2020 plans. What political decision China's people and political leaders make at that time depends on many factors.

One thing is fairly certain, based on current Chinese political thought: this is not a race for them, and they want to further engage internationally.

Again, there are many issues.



Offline Blackstar

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Re: China's manned Moon plans
« Reply #26 on: 02/07/2010 02:38 AM »
There is also a Chinese-originated image showing how four CZ-5s can be used for a manned lunar landing.

Nope, that's not a "Chinese-originated image"--it was originated by ME.  Actually, to be precise, it originated at NASA.  I simply acquired it and scanned it:

http://www.thespacereview.com/article/1231/2

See also the attached file.

Offline Blackstar

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Re: China's manned Moon plans
« Reply #27 on: 02/07/2010 02:55 AM »
This is clearly only fantasy. You can tell the author, Tkacik, is really trying to hype up their capabilities and not taking into consideration that they do not have the political will do undertake such a thing.

Yes.  A careful reading of the article shows a number of problems with it.  It's always worthwhile to ask some specific questions about the articles you read, such as:

-who are the sources of the information in the article?  Are their names provided?
-is the information firm, or speculative?
-does the information agree with other articles on the subject?
-is there any indication that the author is likely to have current knowledge about the subject?

Here's a good paragraph that illustrates some of the problems:

"Senior Chinese space officials have told their state media that China could be on the moon by 2022 at the outside. Other authoritative Chinese space engineers see a moon landing as a next step in the Tiangong program that will launch three Chinese space stations into Earth orbit between 2011 and 2015. In 2008, NASA scientists told the Bush White House that, with the technology currently available to the Chinese space program, Chinese cosmonauts could be on the moon by 2017. "

Look at the first sentence: "could be on the moon by 2022..."  Okay, "could" is not the same as "will be" and certainly is not the same as "plans to be."  In other words, senior Chinese space officials have said that they could do it--if anybody actually allowed them to do it.  This does not mean that they have an active manned lunar program, and in fact, there has never been any information indicating that they do have an active manned lunar program.  (It's also worth noting that the United States "could" be on the Moon by 2022 as well, if we were willing to spend the money.)

Look at the second sentence: "a next step in the Tiangong program that will launch three Chinese space stations into Earth orbit between 2011 and 2015."  Actually, the Chinese have publicly stated that the "next step" after Tiangong is to build a modular space station, NOT to go to the Moon.  In fact, their plans for 2010-2020 are careful and logical.  They're going to obtain rendezvous experience, increase their flight times, and then devote attention to building up a space station starting around the middle of this decade. 

Also, for both of these sentences, who are these "senior Chinese space officials" and "authoritative Chinese space engineers"?  Why doesn't the author provide their names?

Finally, look at that third sentence: "NASA scientists told the Bush White House..."  Who were these NASA scientists?  What are their names?

I don't mean to be overly critical of this article, only to point out that if you read it closely, it does not actually contain any NEW information.  And in fact, it contains some claims that are contradicted by information that the Chinese have already provided.  The Chinese have provided some good basic outlines of their human spaceflight program.  It's just that people who want to warn of the dangers of China prefer to ignore the information and make up fantasies that the Chinese are rushing to the Moon.
« Last Edit: 02/07/2010 02:56 AM by Blackstar »

Offline Blackstar

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Re: China's manned Moon plans
« Reply #28 on: 02/07/2010 03:00 AM »
That would be an article I would love to read in English.  The photos are VERY interesting.

Actually, it looks like they grabbed all the photos from publicly accessible sources.  I don't see a single illustration that actually provides insight into their own program.  And because of that, I suspect that the article is simply an overview of how it is possible to reach the Moon, not how the Chinese themselves might actually do it.
« Last Edit: 02/07/2010 03:04 AM by Blackstar »

Offline Blackstar

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Re: China's manned Moon plans
« Reply #29 on: 02/07/2010 03:03 AM »
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?

Not really.  I don't know of anybody--maybe you do--who claims that it is not "possible" to send humans to the Moon using only EELV-class rockets.  The question is what is the "best" method of doing that. 

Note that launching multiple EELV-class rockets creates some significant limitations on the mass that you can land, and also imposes some major constraints.  For instance, it requires high reliability and a robust ground infrastructure (such as multiple pads) so that you can launch all these separate payloads in a short period of time and link them all up.  Is that the best way of doing the mission?  Depends upon how you want to define "best."

Offline spacex

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Re: China's manned Moon plans
« Reply #30 on: 02/07/2010 03:10 AM »
Well put, Blackstar. If fact it is pretty clear that the entire piece is pretty rubbish.

Interestingly, he claims: "China will likely opt for two complex "Earth orbit rendezvous" maneuvers."

Ok, even it if it technically feasible, it is HIGHLY unlikely the Chinese would undertake such a risky multiple launch/rendezvous route.

The estimates of 2017 by NASA sources (umm who? Griffin's remark?) or "2022 at the outside" Tkacik suggests are pure balderdash and probably based on misinformation or poorly quoted sources. I would really like to see the source if they really exists.

In fact, reviewing Tkacik's other columns you can clearly see his very hawkish views in vastly overestimating their military capabilities and danger towards the United States.

This is clearly only fantasy. You can tell the author, Tkacik, is really trying to hype up their capabilities and not taking into consideration that they do not have the political will do undertake such a thing.

Yes.  A careful reading of the article shows a number of problems with it.  It's always worthwhile to ask some specific questions about the articles you read, such as:

-who are the sources of the information in the article?  Are their names provided?
-is the information firm, or speculative?
-does the information agree with other articles on the subject?
-is there any indication that the author is likely to have current knowledge about the subject?

Here's a good paragraph that illustrates some of the problems:

"Senior Chinese space officials have told their state media that China could be on the moon by 2022 at the outside. Other authoritative Chinese space engineers see a moon landing as a next step in the Tiangong program that will launch three Chinese space stations into Earth orbit between 2011 and 2015. In 2008, NASA scientists told the Bush White House that, with the technology currently available to the Chinese space program, Chinese cosmonauts could be on the moon by 2017. "

Look at the first sentence: "could be on the moon by 2022..."  Okay, "could" is not the same as "will be" and certainly is not the same as "plans to be."  In other words, senior Chinese space officials have said that they could do it--if anybody actually allowed them to do it.  This does not mean that they have an active manned lunar program, and in fact, there has never been any information indicating that they do have an active manned lunar program.  (It's also worth noting that the United States "could" be on the Moon by 2022 as well, if we were willing to spend the money.)

Look at the second sentence: "a next step in the Tiangong program that will launch three Chinese space stations into Earth orbit between 2011 and 2015."  Actually, the Chinese have publicly stated that the "next step" after Tiangong is to build a modular space station, NOT to go to the Moon.  In fact, their plans for 2010-2020 are careful and logical.  They're going to obtain rendezvous experience, increase their flight times, and then devote attention to building up a space station starting around the middle of this decade. 

Also, for both of these sentences, who are these "senior Chinese space officials" and "authoritative Chinese space engineers"?  Why doesn't the author provide their names?

Finally, look at that third sentence: "NASA scientists told the Bush White House..."  Who were these NASA scientists?  What are their names?

I don't mean to be overly critical of this article, only to point out that if you read it closely, it does not actually contain any NEW information.  And in fact, it contains some claims that are contradicted by information that the Chinese have already provided.  The Chinese have provided some good basic outlines of their human spaceflight program.  It's just that people who want to warn of the dangers of China prefer to ignore the information and make up fantasies that the Chinese are rushing to the Moon.
« Last Edit: 02/07/2010 03:20 AM by spacex »

Offline Blackstar

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Re: China's manned Moon plans
« Reply #31 on: 02/07/2010 03:21 AM »
Attached is a presentation on China's manned spaceflight program produced by the Chinese Society of Astronautics and presented at the Sept 2008 IAF conference in Glasgow. 

If you go to the end of the presentation, you see that the presentation indicates that their goal is to build a multi-module space station by 2020.

What annoys me about articles concerning the Chinese moon landing program is that they a) have no solid data indicating that China even has a manned Moon program, and b) ignore information that the Chinese themselves produce indicating that they are interested in space stations, not lunar missions.

People simply ignore the available data because it does not conform to the story that they want to believe, and to push--that China is going to "beat" the United States to the Moon.  (Which would be hard to do anyway, since we beat them there four decades ago.)

Online Phillip Clark

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Re: China's manned Moon plans
« Reply #32 on: 02/07/2010 07:45 AM »
There is also a Chinese-originated image showing how four CZ-5s can be used for a manned lunar landing.
Nope, that's not a "Chinese-originated image"--it was originated by ME.  Actually, to be precise, it originated at NASA.  I simply acquired it and scanned it:
http://www.thespacereview.com/article/1231/2
See also the attached file.

Thank you for the clarification here.   I had never taken that mission profile as being the "final version", but I had not considered that the Chinese had taken a western concept and published it themselves.


On the other hand, I have oreviously been involved with a similar situation.  In the early 1990s Jane's Intelligence Review carried a review of the FSW programme from me and a few months later the review appeared in a Chinese magazine.   I only found out about this when I asked for a translation of the apparently-detailed article, only to be told "it's yours"!!

Offline Blackstar

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Re: China's manned Moon plans
« Reply #33 on: 02/07/2010 04:55 PM »
The presentation was made by Scott Pace after he left NASA, but it was clearly something that NASA had done.  I never asked for the NASA study, but presumably an enterprising researcher could try to get hold of it.

Several years ago NASA was directed by Congress to perform a review of the Chinese space program.  Apparently all they did was to collect up a bunch of news articles and present them to Congress, rather than to do an actual assessment themselves.  I therefore found this chart to be somewhat surprising, because it implied that NASA had indeed done some kind of assessment.
« Last Edit: 02/07/2010 05:01 PM by Blackstar »

Offline Blackstar

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Re: China's manned Moon plans
« Reply #34 on: 02/07/2010 05:06 PM »
In reading some of the commentary about this Washington Times opinion article, I'm amazed at how shallow all the discussion of this topic is. 

China has not announced any human lunar plans.  That's pretty clear from the evidence.  However, people keep claiming again and again that China is going to land humans on the Moon, even though there is no evidence.  (Anybody remember that only a few years ago people claimed that China would do this by 2010, then by 2017, then by 2022?)  Every time one of these bogus articles appears, some space buffs get themselves all into a lather about how the U.S. "must beat China to the Moon."  It's a echo that continues despite any actual facts.

And now the new twist is that this columnist has taken a NASA study (I strongly suspect that he doesn't have the study--he simply has the one-page chart that I wrote about in my TSR article two years ago) and said that this is how China is going to the Moon.  And then there are space buffs out there who actually believe that this is how China is going to do it.

It's an argument built on a solid foundation of marshmallows.
« Last Edit: 02/07/2010 05:07 PM by Blackstar »

Offline William Barton

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Re: China's manned Moon plans
« Reply #35 on: 02/07/2010 05:21 PM »
Blackstar, I share your amazement this. I have to say, even if China had clearly announced plans to land on the Moon in 2019, backed up by multiple Shenzhou flights every year, and early testing of an HLV design, I doubt it would carry much weight in Congress or the White House. The reaction for most Americans would be, "So what? We did it 50 years earlier."

Online Phillip Clark

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Re: China's manned Moon plans
« Reply #36 on: 02/07/2010 05:45 PM »
It's an argument built on a solid foundation of marshmallows.

I recall the same conclusions being drawn during the 1960s and 1970s about the Soviet Union never really having a programme to land people on the Moon.

I am sure that it is safe to say that the Chinese have a long-term plan to land men - maybe the first woman? - on the Moon, but the near-term goal is clearly the establishment of a module space station by 2020.

I also believe that the Chinese have done some basic studies into how to get people to the Moon.   Maybe if they are thinking of a landing in 2025-2030 then they have the time to develop a heavy-lift launch vehicle for a single-launch mission like Saturn-5/Apollo or N-1/L-3?   Or, if they can get away with a viable programme using the CZ-5 technology then this is the route to use.

Detailed reconstructions of a Chinese piloted lunar landing are far too premature, because such finalised designs most likely don't even exist in China.

Back in July 1999 on BBC World Television I predicted a manned Chinese orbital flight within five years and possibly the next footsteps on the Moon being Chinese in 2019.   It is clear that this was far too optimistic, although I was told that within a day or two there had been a posting on a space philately website saying that "someone" had been on the BBC, predicting a Chinese manned lunar landing within five years!!

Offline Blackstar

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Re: China's manned Moon plans
« Reply #37 on: 02/07/2010 07:58 PM »
I recall the same conclusions being drawn during the 1960s and 1970s about the Soviet Union never really having a programme to land people on the Moon.


Except for the satellite photos.

Offline sdsds

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Re: China's manned Moon plans
« Reply #38 on: 02/07/2010 08:25 PM »
It's an argument built on a solid foundation of marshmallows.
I am sure that it is safe to say that the Chinese have a long-term plan to land men - maybe the first woman? - on the Moon, but the near-term goal is clearly the establishment of a module space station by 2020.

I also believe that the Chinese have done some basic studies into how to get people to the Moon.   Maybe if they are thinking of a landing in 2025-2030 then they have the time to develop a heavy-lift launch vehicle for a single-launch mission like Saturn-5/Apollo or N-1/L-3?   Or, if they can get away with a viable programme using the CZ-5 technology then this is the route to use.

Detailed reconstructions of a Chinese piloted lunar landing are far too premature, because such finalised designs most likely don't even exist in China.

This is an area where it probably makes sense to define the terms used in any description.  What, after all, constitutes a "plan", as opposed to a dream or an aspiration?

Based on the evidence of the logo, it seems reasonable to think the Chinese "aspire" to leaving bootprints on the lunar surface.  Thinking they have a "plan of record" detailing the characteristics of the spacecraft and launch vehicles they will use is probably not so reasonable.

I'm interested though in the middle ground.  Is it reasonable to think they might be developing (or discussing internally) "design reference missions"?  Is it pretty clear a mission patterned after the Soviet LK design, i.e. one person on the surface for a short duration, could be mounted using multiple Long March 5 launches?  It would make China the second country to achieve a lunar surface mission.  That would support the claim they had passed Russia in spaceflight accomplishments, which might have considerable political value to them.
« Last Edit: 02/07/2010 08:26 PM by sdsds »
-- sdsds --

Offline Blackstar

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Re: China's manned Moon plans
« Reply #39 on: 02/07/2010 09:38 PM »
Based on the evidence of the logo, it seems reasonable to think the Chinese "aspire" to leaving bootprints on the lunar surface.  Thinking they have a "plan of record" detailing the characteristics of the spacecraft and launch vehicles they will use is probably not so reasonable.

There's a good analogy in the Japanese HOPE spaceplane of the 1990s.  During the early-mid 1990s NASDA had plans to develop a small unmanned spaceplane as a technology demonstrator.  Yet it was common for their artist impressions to show cockpit windows on the front of the spaceplane:

http://www.astronautix.com/gallery/chope.htm

They never had any formal plans for a manned spaceplane, and HOPE got canceled anyway.  So it's not safe to read too much into artwork.

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