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March 12-18, 2012 / Vol 31, No 11 / Hawai`i Island, USA

9 Mar 2012, 21:29 UTC
March 12-18, 2012 / Vol 31, No 11 / Hawai`i Island, USA
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China Gears Up For Human Space / Multi-World Exploration With New Launch Systems and Hainan Space Port
Progress continues on development of the Long March-5 and Long March-7 rocket launch systems. Deputy head of the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology Liang Xiaohong (TR) indicates that the LM-5, with a maximum LEO payload capacity of 25 tons and geosynchronous orbit payload capacity of 14 tons, will make its maiden flight in 2014. The LM-7 system will be ready for launch within 5 years. The new Wenchang Satellite Launch Center on Hainan Island is due for completion in 2013. At only 19 degrees north latitude, it is China’s best available site for launching geosynchronous satellites, heavy satellites, large space station components, deep space probes, lunar and interplanetary missions. This summer China plans to conduct a crewed space rendezvous and docking mission with Tiangong-1 as a precursor to continued development of a dedicated space station, the core module of which is scheduled for a LM-5 launch by 2020. The Chang’e Moon exploration program is also advancing with the Chang’e-3 soft-landing/rover and the Chang’e-5 sample return missions slated for 2013 and 2017 respectively. While commentators in the West, most recently Neil deGrasse Tyson, ...

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