Eideard

China sends their first woman astronaut into space

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China launched its most ambitious space mission yet on Saturday, carrying its first female astronaut and two male colleagues in an attempt to dock with an orbiting module and work on board for more than a week.

The Shenzhou 9 capsule lifted off as scheduled at 6:37 p.m. (1037 GMT) from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center on the edge of the Gobi Desert. All systems functioned normally and, just over 10 minutes later, it opened its solar panels and entered orbit…

Female astronaut Liu Yang, 33, and two male crew members – mission commander and veteran astronaut Jing Haipeng, 45, and newcomer Liu Wang, 43 – are to dock the spacecraft with a prototype space lab launched last year in a key step toward building a permanent space station. All three are experienced pilots and officers in the Chinese air force…

China is hoping to join the United States and Russia as the only countries to send independently maintained space stations into orbit. It is already one of just three nations to have launched manned spacecraft on their own.

Another manned mission to the module is planned later this year, while possible future missions could include sending a man to the moon.

The space program is a source of enormous national pride for China, reflecting its rapid economic and technological progress and ambition to rank among the world’s leading nations. The selection of the first female astronaut is giving the program an additional publicity boost…

The astronauts are expected to reach the module, called Tiangong 1, on Monday. Now orbiting at 343 kilometers above Earth, the module is only a prototype, and plans call for it to be replaced by a larger permanent space station due for completion around 2020…

China has only limited cooperation in space with other nations and its exclusion from the ISS, largely on objections from the United States, was one of the key spurs for it to pursue an independent space program 20 years ago.

At the current rate of progress in the United States, I imagine China will share the sale of tickets to the Moon and Mars with Space-X to members of Congress who care to visit in the next 50 years. Our politicians really deserve “credit” for the results of their Cold war mentality.

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Written by Ed Campbell

June 16, 2012 at 6:00 pm

One Response

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  1. Bravo.

    moss

    June 17, 2012 at 5:45 am


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