Author Topic: Chinese Modular Space Station - circa 2020  (Read 66961 times)

Online Phillip Clark

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Chinese Modular Space Station - circa 2020
« on: 09/23/2011 07:25 AM »
Some discussions which I started on the Tiangong 1 thread were mis-interpreted as relating to Tianging 1 rather than the future module space station which the Chinese are planning, so I am starting a new thread here in the hope of preventing such confusion.

We all know by now that around 2020 the Chinese hope to start the construction of a modular space station, which could be their equivalent of Mir.

We know that there will be a core module and at least two permanent/long-term modules of a similar size - around 20-25 tonnes - launched by the CZ-5 vehicle.

A Shenzhou is shown at the front longitudinal port, having taken three people (I assume) to the station.   At the back there is a cargo freighter, derived from the Tiangong module.

This configuration appears in both still images like the one which I am attaching and videos showing the assembly of the station.

The front of the core module appears to have five docking ports.   The front longitudinal one is occupied by a Shenzhou - other than when a new module does the preliminary docking - and the two radial ports are occupied by the plug-on modules.   What about the zenith and nadir ports?   I have never seen any depictions of these being occupied by either a Shenzhou or a plug-on module.

On Mir the standard practive was to vacate the rear longitudinal port to allow a new Soyuz crew to dock there and when the older crew and Soyuz returned to Earth the new Soyuz would move to the front port, allowing the rear port to be used once more by Progress cargo freighters.   (Pause: yes, I know that there were exceptions, but I am talking in overall terms here.)

Therefore it would be reasonable that if the Chinese station were to be permanently occupied like Mir a used Tiangong-class module would be discarded from the rear port and the new Shenzhou docked there, and be relocated after the original crew returns to Earth.   If the Chinese go for six months residencies then one Tiangong cargo freighter should be enough to keep them supplied.

So, why the zenith and nadir docking ports at the front of the core module?   Maybe one could be used as an EVA hatch - but then again the Shenzhou orbital module could be used the same way if the Chinese want to do that.   Maybe the Chinese are keeping open the option of having four radial plug-on modules, as Mir had?

Of course, in the next nine years the design of this station will surely changeand these questions will be answered.

« Last Edit: 09/23/2011 05:47 PM by Ronsmytheiii »

Online Chandonn

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Re: The Modular Space Station - circa 2020
« Reply #1 on: 09/23/2011 11:19 AM »
I would suggest specifying the "Chinese" space station in the title.  We already have a modular space station which should be in orbit in 2020, for example.  Also, Bieglow may have a modular space station in orbit by then, and so on...
« Last Edit: 09/23/2011 11:20 AM by Chandonn »

Online lucspace

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Re: The Modular Space Station - circa 2020
« Reply #2 on: 09/23/2011 01:18 PM »
There are several depictions of all docking ports occupied:


Online Phillip Clark

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Re: The Chinese Modular Space Station - circa 2020
« Reply #3 on: 09/23/2011 02:21 PM »
I would suggest specifying the "Chinese" space station in the title.  We already have a modular space station which should be in orbit in 2020, for example.  Also, Bieglow may have a modular space station in orbit by then, and so on...

Since this section is for Chinese launches and space programmes I thought people would take it for granted that I meant a Chinese module space station.

Online Phillip Clark

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Re: The Modular Space Station - circa 2020
« Reply #4 on: 09/23/2011 02:24 PM »
There are several depictions of all docking ports occupied:

Thank you for posting these pictures.

I had seen the display picture before, but since a similar display showed a Shenzhou with solar panels docked at the smaller module of Tiangong 1, I wonder about their accuracy.

I had not seen to second picture before at all.

Online Chandonn

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Re: The Modular Space Station - circa 2020
« Reply #5 on: 09/23/2011 03:41 PM »
Sorry, when I pull up "unread items" on the mobile site it doesn't list the thread location.  $
Hence my suggestion.
« Last Edit: 09/23/2011 03:42 PM by Chandonn »

Online Phillip Clark

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Re: The Modular Space Station - circa 2020
« Reply #6 on: 09/23/2011 04:39 PM »
Deviating slightly from the title (is there a way to amend the title to "The Chinese Modular Space Station - circa 2020" to avoid confusion?), what can we look forward to in the Chinese programme?

Since Tiangong 1 will be hosting two crews next year then I assume that its operating lifetime wll be around 12-18 months.   If the real future role of Tiangong is to to be a cargo freighter then you don't need multi-year operating times, as we saw with Salyuts 6/7.   Six-nine months for each freighter would be reasonable, depending upon the stay times of the crews on te modular station.

On this basis, I would assume that Tiangongs 2 and 3 will be very much like Tiangong 1, launched at intervals of around 2-3 years.   Maybe extending the in-orbit stay of the crews, varying experiments, gaining more EVA experience perhaps.

What would be nice - and it would need a redesign of Tiangong as we see it now - would be for Tiangong 3 to have a second docking port and then host a test flight of the cargo freighter version while there's a crew on board.

One element of a space station programme does seem to be missing from the Chinese discussions.   From what has been published the Chinese plan to go from the Tiangong-based spacelab to the modular space station, without having a Salyut 6/7 equivalent.   This is surprising since the CZ-5 will be available for the launch of such a 20-25 tonnes station from te middle of this decade.

Of course, it is possible that the Chinese are planning such a mission after Tiangong 3 but they just aren't talking about it yet.

Offline Zero-G

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Re: Chinese Modular Space Station - circa 2020
« Reply #7 on: 09/23/2011 08:05 PM »
AFAIK, Tiangong-3 is planned to be redesigned to have two docking ports. (I have read this somewhere, but forgot where I read it. Sorry.)
"I still don't understand who I am: the first human or the last dog in space." - Yuri Gagarin

Online Phillip Clark

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Re: Chinese Modular Space Station - circa 2020
« Reply #8 on: 09/28/2011 02:44 PM »
I have just come across the attached illustration at the following web site:

http://english.people.com.cn/102775/202988/index.html

This shows a Shenzhou at both the front and rear longitudinal ports of the core module, one apparently at the nadir port, a Tiangong (cargo freighter variant?) and the zenith port and the two experiment modules, approximately the same size as the core module.

I don't think I have seen this specific configuration before.   Of course, if we consider the three large modules (core and two experiment modules) as fixed, then the Shenzhous and Tiangongs can go anywhere!

Offline Ben the Space Brit

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Re: Chinese Modular Space Station - circa 2020
« Reply #9 on: 09/28/2011 04:00 PM »
@ Phillip Clark,

Depending on the accuracy of this illustration, TG-3's experimental modules look like their TG-1 heritage designs (OML at least).  That picture seems to have a single SZ crew ferry and two SZ cargo ships (one on core aft and one on node nadir).

Of course, a lot can change in a decade.
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Online Phillip Clark

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Re: Chinese Modular Space Station - circa 2020
« Reply #10 on: 09/28/2011 04:14 PM »
@ Phillip Clark,

Depending on the accuracy of this illustration, TG-3's experimental modules look like their TG-1 heritage designs (OML at least).  That picture seems to have a single SZ crew ferry and two SZ cargo ships (one on core aft and one on node nadir).
Of course, a lot can change in a decade.

I have always considered the experimental modules to be similar to Tiangong 1 but with a longer narrow-diameter section and probably with the propulsion system relocated to the rear of the large diameter section.   Maybe they are simply variants of the core module's design?   

Why have a cargo version of Shenzhou when Tiangong will do the job?   I am wondering whether the picture that I posted is primarily a fiction and that the original pictures of the modular space station from 2007-2008 are the accurate ones.

Online lucspace

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Re: Chinese Modular Space Station - circa 2020
« Reply #11 on: 01/03/2012 06:02 AM »
The Novosti Kosmonavtiki forum shows a new/alternative? design for the large space station: http://www.novosti-kosmonavtiki.ru/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=8751&start=645

More images at: http://www.mychinanet.com/newcarwen/archive/11977.aspx

Offline space_dreamer

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Re: Chinese Modular Space Station - circa 2020
« Reply #12 on: 01/03/2012 10:06 AM »
Could the spare ports be for experimental Luna landers?

Or a space tug

The potential of the Chinese space program over the next few decades is incredible = total goverment control combined with a GDP bigger than America and growing.

http://www.economist.com/node/21542155

It's estimated that China's GDP will reach the US level by 2017 so by the time this modular space station is finished in 2020 China will be comfortably the richest country in the world. Nasa has put off the US return to the moon until the end of the 2020s. By that time, will the US be able to catch up with China who plan to be on the moon by 2025?

Offline space_dreamer

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Offline Space Pete

Re: Chinese Modular Space Station - circa 2020
« Reply #14 on: 01/03/2012 10:33 AM »
That's a bit of a beast of a station! :o
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Offline hal9000

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Re: Chinese Modular Space Station - circa 2020
« Reply #15 on: 01/04/2012 11:50 AM »
A considerable amount of work has gone into these images.  Is there any associated text to describe the origin of the images?

And I'm intrigued by the 'lego'-like wings on what appears to be an airlock module (3rd from last image) - any ideas as to what they are?  Radiators?

Offline snowhole

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Re: Chinese Modular Space Station - circa 2020
« Reply #16 on: 01/05/2012 12:01 AM »
A considerable amount of work has gone into these images.  Is there any associated text to describe the origin of the images?

And I'm intrigued by the 'lego'-like wings on what appears to be an airlock module (3rd from last image) - any ideas as to what they are?  Radiators?

http://lt.cjdby.net/thread-1305670-1-1.html

Fan made.

Offline Jason1701

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Re: Chinese Modular Space Station - circa 2020
« Reply #17 on: 01/05/2012 12:31 AM »
A considerable amount of work has gone into these images.  Is there any associated text to describe the origin of the images?

And I'm intrigued by the 'lego'-like wings on what appears to be an airlock module (3rd from last image) - any ideas as to what they are?  Radiators?

http://lt.cjdby.net/thread-1305670-1-1.html

Fan made.

So that's not what the station will really be?

Offline MikeMelga

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Re: Chinese Modular Space Station - circa 2020
« Reply #18 on: 01/05/2012 12:35 AM »
Chinese don't invent things. They copy it and make it from cheap materials. That station is a copy from old Russian technology. Although being an European, I think the US can top the Chinese easily just by constantly developing new tech AND keeping it a secret. This advice serves for space exploration and for your crappy cars.

Offline Nascent Ascent

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Re: Chinese Modular Space Station - circa 2020
« Reply #19 on: 01/05/2012 12:38 AM »
Chinese don't invent things. They copy it and make it from cheap materials. That station is a copy from old Russian technology. Although being an European, I think the US can top the Chinese easily just by constantly developing new tech AND keeping it a secret. This advice serves for space exploration and for your crappy cars.

That is a viable strategy and it has been proven to work (i.e. Microsoft).  The real advantage for the Chinese is their long-term planning and constancy.
“Why should we send people into space when we have kids in the U.S. that can’t read”. - Barack Obama

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