Author Topic: LIVE: Chang'e-3 lunar probe and rover, CZ-3B - Xichang - December 1, 2013  (Read 316569 times)

Offline jcm

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But that brings us back to some very fundamental questions, such as what is driving the Chinese lunar program. Is it primarily science? Or is it primarily developing engineering capability? Or is it a near equal mix of both? I would not simply assume that they want to go bigger and bigger, not until we have an idea of why they are doing any of this.
IMO these are actually pretty useless questions to ask, and no answers given by the source will ever be believed anyway.

Poppycock. That position is just an excuse to not think about the why, just watch the pretty pictures and talk about rockets. It's like saying "Why? Reasons!"

Somebody sets the policy in the Chinese space program. And they clearly have a policy, both for human spaceflight, and for their lunar robotic program. This stuff just doesn't happen via immaculate conception. Look at the progression from CE-1 to 2 to 3. Increases in technology, capability, and science goals. What's the driver? Is there a roadmap that says "Do X first, followed by Y, followed by Z"? (They must have some kind of roadmap, otherwise they wouldn't be doing X, Y and then Z.) Do they have a science priorities committee that does this? How does the Chinese space program establish their priorities, and what are those priorities? And who is doing it? Who are the officials who are making the call? Just because we don't know the answers now doesn't mean that there are no answers.

For starters, the Chinese Academy of Sciences appears to be involved. That would be a good place to start.

And I'd note that the reason I'm asking these questions is that I'm pretty familiar with how it happens in the United States (being directly involved in it). Over here stuff doesn't "just happen," so my guess is that it doesn't just happen in China either.

Understanding that is a good step to figuring out what they might do after CE-6.

Some history on this, from official Chinese new reports (in Chinese of course)
http://news.163.com/13/1201/00/9EVGR1GO00014JB6.html

Some highlights of the timeline

1. Chinese Lunar Exploration Study group was established in 1991 as part of Project 863. (That project itself was started in 1986 headed then by Wang Ganchang to found technology and science programs in China)
2. The Study group submitted its conclusions as a feasibility study to the State Council in 1994
3. Lunar Resource, Exploration and Scientific study group was established in 1998 to come up with a detailed plan of lunar exploration in 2000. 《中国月球资源探测卫星科学目标》From the official "leaks" since, we know the following: The plan sets 3 large phases, with each phase containing 3 major phase. The Large phase are 探 (Probe or Unmanned exploration)、登 (Walk, or manned exploration)、驻(住) (Stay, or Moon base).  The first 3 little phase plan, later would become CE1 to CE6.
4. In 2000, parts of the plan was published as part of the 2006 white paper on Chinese Space exploration. You can read it here in English.
http://www.fas.org/spp/guide/china/wp2006.pdf
5. Between 2000 and 2004, a series of working group was established on specific goals, instructions, vehicles etc. And submitted a formal space program for approval.
6. The program was approved in 2004, and formally named Chang'e and CLEP was established.
7. CE1 completed in 2006, with CE2 starting work in 2006. CE1 launched in 2007, CE2 in 2010
8. CE3 Started work in 2009, and launched in 2013

So the whole thing took 10 years to plan it, without funding to launching a single thing. That's a lot of time to figure out why, how and when. Would love to read the internal memos.

Very interesting. CLEP is formally part of CNSA, correct?   And formally CNSA-CLEP is the equivalent of the NASA project-management center, and CAST (I assume) has the role of contractor? Or is it still more like the Russian system where the "contractor" does almost everything, with CNSA being a very thin layer? Not very well expressed but hopefully you get what I'm asking.
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Offline input~2

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Fairing debris were recovered near Yangfen village (260810N1141906E) Jiangxi province within the announced NOTAMed drop zone
(source)

Offline savuporo

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Detailed information on the individual instruments will come very soon...
Thanks ! Seeing as you get information close from there - i gathered from some reports and badly translated comments that there were two competing rover designs by two different institutes, both built to advanced stage. Thats probably the reason why animations and illustrations show different versions, too. Any confirmation on that ?
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Offline Comga

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Fairing debris were recovered near Yangfen village (260810N1141906E) Jiangxi province within the announced NOTAMed drop zone
(source)

Interesting looking at the fairing debris
The fairing piece is remarkably intact for something that fell so far and started the fall at such a high speed.
There does not appear to be any accoustic dampening features, as are on the inside of the Atlas V fairings.
Any idea of the function of the three red cylinders on the left in the upper photo?
What kind of wastrels would dump a perfectly good booster in the ocean after just one use?

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Somebody sets the policy in the Chinese space program. And they clearly have a policy, both for human spaceflight, and for their lunar robotic program. This stuff just doesn't happen via immaculate conception.
Policy is never set by a single Somebody unless we are dealing with dictatorship - which China isnt. A good policy decision is a result from inputs of multiple sources ( academia, finance, political leaders, partners etc ) - and it would seem that this is working OK for a Chinese space program.  But i get where

Well, by "somebody" I mean a plurality. People. Committees. Organizations. And even in dictatorships decisions are made by more than one person (that's where henchmen and minions come in).

Making very long term roadmaps in rapidly evolving technology world is not very useful excercise anyway - i would expect they make further decisions once CE-3 has proven itself.

Roadmap is a somewhat generic, shorthand term. There's a process. There's a plan. Roadmaps, at least as they are frequently done by NASA (and they can be done in many different ways) usually have things designated off-ramps and on-ramps. An off-ramp is a point where you decide to abandon something or cancel a project because you're not making progress. So with a long-term roadmap, you might designate a point where you say something like "If we do not get technology X to work by this point, we cancel the project." An on-ramp is where you might add a mission or a technology or something that comes along. You might have an R&D project to develop something like a solar sail. It is not part of your long-term roadmap for exploring Mars, but you might put something into the roadmap that says "If we successfully demonstrate the solar sail by this point, we use that instead of chemical propulsion."

Dwight D. Eisenhower famously said "I have always found that plans are useless but planning is indispensable."

>>>>Do they have a science priorities committee that does this?

I sincerely hope not.

The United States has one. ESA has one. I believe that the Indians do too. It would be ridiculous if the Chinese did not.


Asking the question - how does your space roadmap and policy definition process really work ? is quite different from asking "why are you doing this ?" IMO. First question is interesting for me, too, second one not so much.

I think the "why" is a very important question, because one of the possible answers for "why are they doing this?" is "because they want to send humans to the Moon."


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Some history on this, from official Chinese new reports (in Chinese of course)
http://news.163.com/13/1201/00/9EVGR1GO00014JB6.html

Some highlights of the timeline

1. Chinese Lunar Exploration Study group was established in 1991 as part of Project 863. (That project itself was started in 1986 headed then by Wang Ganchang to found technology and science programs in China)
2. The Study group submitted its conclusions as a feasibility study to the State Council in 1994
3. Lunar Resource, Exploration and Scientific study group was established in 1998 to come up with a detailed plan of lunar exploration in 2000. 《中国月球资源探测卫星科学目标》From the official "leaks" since, we know the following: The plan sets 3 large phases, with each phase containing 3 major phase. The Large phase are 探 (Probe or Unmanned exploration)、登 (Walk, or manned exploration)、驻(住) (Stay, or Moon base).  The first 3 little phase plan, later would become CE1 to CE6.
4. In 2000, parts of the plan was published as part of the 2006 white paper on Chinese Space exploration. You can read it here in English.
http://www.fas.org/spp/guide/china/wp2006.pdf
5. Between 2000 and 2004, a series of working group was established on specific goals, instructions, vehicles etc. And submitted a formal space program for approval.
6. The program was approved in 2004, and formally named Chang'e and CLEP was established.
7. CE1 completed in 2006, with CE2 starting work in 2006. CE1 launched in 2007, CE2 in 2010
8. CE3 Started work in 2009, and launched in 2013

So the whole thing took 10 years to plan it, without funding to launching a single thing. That's a lot of time to figure out why, how and when. Would love to read the internal memos.

Thank you. That's exactly what I suspected existed. Obviously there's a plan somewhere, and there's a group or groups that developed it. Knowing the plan and the people behind it can provide information on what their next missions may be.

Offline Lar

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Asking the question - how does your space roadmap and policy definition process really work ? is quite different from asking "why are you doing this ?" IMO. First question is interesting for me, too, second one not so much.

I think the "why" is a very important question, because one of the possible answers for "why are they doing this?" is "because they want to send humans to the Moon."

Which just begets another "why" ... is it flags and footprints delux (phase two "walk" and phase three base just being delux F&F) or is it something more?

Completely uninformed speculation on my part is that it is something more than just F&F... Economic exploitation of the resources, construction of an industrial base for further economic growth, and taking and holding the high ground. (position atop the Earth's gravity well)... possession and exploitation being the legal way to de facto sovereignty.

"I think it would be great to be born on Earth and to die on Mars. Just hopefully not at the point of impact." -Elon Musk
"We're a little bit like the dog who caught the bus" - Musk after CRS-8 S1 successfully landed on ASDS OCISLY

Offline savuporo

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I think the "why" is a very important question, because one of the possible answers for "why are they doing this?" is "because they want to send humans to the Moon."
Various officials from both Chinese program tracks ( Lunar and manned orbital ) have repeatedly noted that this is one of the long term aspirations but no concrete decisions have been made on this, the planning cycle and prerequisite tech development probably just isn't far enough yet. "Knowing the plan" - they have communicated the plan, the parts of it that is solid, with a multi-year horizon. Their planning cycle is 5 years. I'm not sure there is more to know there.
Getting to know the key people involved more closely, doing some investigative space journalism in China etc would be all very welcome as it has been woefully neglected and a lot of reporting in western media has been guesswork and poor second hand translations. However, just like with NASA and other space agencies you can probably get aspirational mission plans, proposals and ideas, but not concrete well defined roadmaps  - before these roadmaps are committed to and funded.

Quote
Completely uninformed speculation on my part is that it is something more than just F&F... Economic exploitation of the resources
Again, all these long term aspirations have been mentioned by various chinese space program officials and scientist on multiple occasions, but they are aspirations, not defined roadmaps and committed missions - which makes total sense. Walk before you try to run.
There is a bunch of pre- and post- launch interviews and talks available here with various officials, go read them
http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/special/change3/
http://www.globaltimes.cn/SPECIALCOVERAGE/Change3.aspx
http://english.cntv.cn/special/lunarmission/index.shtml

Not sure why people are so hung up on some "behind the scenes ulterior motive" like "gaining the high ground in space". I'm sure there are steely eyed missile men also in China, like everywhere else that dream about lazors with sharks on the moon, but this doesn't mean that majority of scientists and engineers working on the program and delivering these current accomplishments have a secret handshake and do an evil laugh every morning when they go to work.
« Last Edit: 12/03/2013 04:59 PM by savuporo »
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Completely uninformed speculation on my part is that it is something more than just F&F... Economic exploitation of the resources, construction of an industrial base for further economic growth, and taking and holding the high ground. (position atop the Earth's gravity well)... possession and exploitation being the legal way to de facto sovereignty.

I agree. But I would also add the more generic "interest in science." Countries spend money on basic science because it's something they do. Now there are tendrils that connect that to other things, like education and supporting an industrial base. But it is a factor on its own.

Offline Lar

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Not sure why people are so hung up on some "behind the scenes ulterior motive" like "gaining the high ground in space". I'm sure there are steely eyed missile men also in China, like everywhere else that dream about lazors with sharks on the moon, but this doesn't mean that majority of scientists and engineers working on the program and delivering these current accomplishments have a secret handshake and do an evil laugh every morning when they go to work.
I don't think that wanting the best for your country, including securing a big slice of a new frontier as it opens up, requires an evil laugh and a secret handshake.

Rather, I expect that many folk in China are thinking through what China's growing economic power implies (in the sense of possibilities opening up) and are planning accordingly. That in and of itself does not make them evil. Just patriotic.  When America was ascendant we did the same.
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Offline savuporo

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China news reporting debris hit 2 houses, no injuries reported so far.

http://www.chinanews.com/tp/hd2011/2013/12-03/272452.shtml

English version of the story
http://www.globaltimes.cn/content/829644.shtml

Also confirming the 160 000 evacuation
Quote
By 3:00 pm on Sunday, over 160,000 people living in 11 townships of the county were evacuated to avoid danger from falling rocket pieces, Zeng said.
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Offline luhai167

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Very interesting. CLEP is formally part of CNSA, correct?   And formally CNSA-CLEP is the equivalent of the NASA project-management center, and CAST (I assume) has the role of contractor? Or is it still more like the Russian system where the "contractor" does almost everything, with CNSA being a very thin layer? Not very well expressed but hopefully you get what I'm asking.
I don't know enough about Russian to comment, but there is what I know:

CAST does pretty much everything, CNSA is mostly for coordination. However CNSA does have it's own engineering teams that manages CAST, such example  CLEP for Chang'e program and Gaofen team for the Gaofen program. (Interestingly CNSA doesn't have a team for the Shengzhou program). Both CNSA and CAST are under SASTIND by the way. (While SASTIND itself is under the enormously bloated, and obscenely powerful MIIT. Everything from media censorship to space program to nuclear weapon research to clean air vehicle to high speed trainsets to patent disputes between tech companies are all under the direction of MIIT...)

This is CNSA's Mission on it's on website

Quote
中国国家航天局是中华人民共和国负责民用航天管理及国际空间合作的政府机构,履行政府相应的管理职责。对航天活动实施行业管理,使其稳定、有序、健康、协调地发展。代表中国政府组织或领导开展航天领域对外交流与合作等活动。

Google translate

Quote
People's Republic of China National Space Administration is the government agency responsible for civil aerospace management and international cooperation in space, corresponding to fulfill the government's management responsibilities. Space activities for the implementation of the industry, making it stable, orderly, healthy and coordinated development. On behalf of the Chinese government, organization or leadership to carry out exchanges and cooperation activities in areas such as aerospace
« Last Edit: 12/04/2013 02:49 AM by luhai167 »

Offline savuporo

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« Last Edit: 12/04/2013 02:47 AM by savuporo »
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Offline luhai167

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That is a expensive book...  :(

Offline mlindner

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That is a expensive book...  :(

$47.25 for a textbook? That's honestly pretty cheap. I've paid close to $200 for a textbook before for a class.
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Offline luhai167

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Well, considering everything on there is open information only a Google or Baidu away... From what I read in the table of Contents, it don't seems to have a whole lot of depth, and probably just a summary and translation of various white papers MIIT publishes every couple of years.

Speaking of MIIT white papers, this the master roadmap from 2009 white paper



Highlights in English:
2010 - 2020
aim for basic scientific mission on multiple fronts.  (Chang'e Program going very well, Kuafu program was delayed, Yinghuo program so far has failed, HXMT launching next year or so.)
Moon sample return (not done)
master deep space flight and tracking (somewhat done with CE2)
basic deep space communication network  (somewhat done with Tianlian, new tracking ships and new ground stations)
basic space station  (done)

2020 - 2030
Aim for 2-3 scientific missions per year
Moon landing (Manned)
Mars Probe
master deep space autonomous flight
high speed deep space communication network
continuously occupied station station

2030-2050
Aim for "disruptive and fundamental" research in basic science (Don't know you can plan for this sort of thing though. But it does mean Chinese will be willing fund expensive science programs by then)
Probe beyond inner solar system (Chinese Voyeger?)
Permanent station on the moon
Leading position in space based observation
Leading position in deep space autonomous flight
Mars Landing (Manned)
Solar system wide communication network

[Perhaps we should move all the posts about Chinese long term plans to a separate post (but not lost in the Chinese space program thread), there are lots of open information available, just all in Chinese.]
« Last Edit: 12/04/2013 04:47 AM by luhai167 »

Offline savuporo

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Yea for a very up to date and in depth material from an author that seems to have a long publishing history ( she is cited a lot ) on the subject, i dont think $40 for the Kindle edition is too much, plus googleplay lets you rent the book for $20.

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there are lots of open information available, just all in Chinese
Thats exactly the problem.

I have often thought how a large percentage of Chinese ( and also Korean, Japanese ) researchers, engineers and scientists can easily use massive amounts of openly available literature and research published everywhere in English, but there has to be a minuscule percentage of western population that can read theirs. And thats not a value or judgement statement, its just the way it is.
« Last Edit: 12/04/2013 04:27 AM by savuporo »
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Online Steven Pietrobon

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I hope this is OK to post. This is a "plan" that was published in a 2010 Chinese paper. The first thread is LEO crewed flight, the second thread is robotic Lunar missions (including the Chang'e orbiter, rover and sample return missions), the third thread is crewed Lunar landings and the fourth thread is the launch vehicle and a propulsive stage. Interestingly, there is an arrow from the sample return mission to the crewed Lunar mission, perhaps indicating that a crewed mission would rendezvous with the samples in Lunar orbit to return them to Earth. If anyone can provide a translated version of this chart, that would be appreciated.
« Last Edit: 12/04/2013 04:58 AM by Steven Pietrobon »
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Offline luhai167

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I hope this is OK to post. This is a "plan" that was published in a 2010 Chinese paper. The first thread is LEO crewed flight, the second thread is robotic Lunar missions (including the Chang'e orbiter, rover and sample return missions), the third thread is crewed Lunar landings and the fourth thread is the launch vehicle and a propulsive stage. Interestingly, there is an arrow from the sample return mission to the crewed Lunar mission, perhaps indicating that a crewed mission would rendezvous with the samples in Lunar orbit to return them to Earth. If anyone can provide a translated version of this chart, that would be appreciated.

Top Arrow
EVA - Space Lab - Space Station ---> Continuous operation

Second Arrow (This is the three small step in the first of three large steps)
Orbit Moon - First Landing - Second Landing - Sample return
Third Arrow (This is the three small step in the second of three large steps)
Moon Orbit Lab - Moon Orbit Rendezvous (merge with sample return) - moon landing

Platform Arrows
Core Rocket Design
Advanced Upper Stage Design
« Last Edit: 12/04/2013 05:23 AM by luhai167 »

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No update on the burn, but next ESA AOS is at 14:10 CET today

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