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Raumfahrt - China´s Sample-Return-Mission zum Mond-Update

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5.09.2014

Later this year, China will launch a spacecraft to the Moon and back. A scale replica of the Shenzhou astronaut capsule will be carried atop a boxy spacecraft based on the Chang'e lunar orbiter, and launched by a Long March 3C rocket.
The mission was originally expected to simply fly around the Moon on a "free-return" trajectory, but recent reports in China's state-run media claim that the spacecraft will actually enter orbit around the Moon. Then the spacecraft will fly back to Earth, and the Shenzhou replica capsule will make a soft landing in China.
The mission seems to have two purposes. China claims that the flight is a test of the capsule to be used on a future robotic sample-return mission to the Moon. This is widely understood and believed. A more controversial idea, not officially stated by China, is that the mission is linked to future plans for launching Chinese astronauts to the Moon. Why else is a replica of their own astronaut capsule being used for the flight?
The mission is thus mostly about performing engineering tests. Returning from the Moon is more difficult than returning from Earth orbit. Apart from the need for precise navigation, the re-entry is much faster, and places more demands on a spacecraft's heatshield. China has mastered re-entry from orbit for decades, but has yet to recover anything from deep space.
While there's a lot of interest in the simple act of flying to the Moon and back, other questions are being raised about what will lurk inside the capsule. So far, China has offered few clues.
This analyst previously estimated that the re-entry capsule is around 1.5 metres across at its base. It isn't clear how much internal volume the capsule has, but it obviously can't accommodate a lot of gear. Nevertheless, there's enough room for some productive experiments.
This analyst expects that much of what lies inside will be focused on the effects of radiation in deep space. This could be a hazard to equipment and personnel on future missions. Thus, we can expect that radiation detectors will be placed inside the capsule.
This will explore the higher radiation levels found at lunar distances and also allow the radiation shielding properties of the capsule to be tested. Some detectors could be located outside on the main spacecraft "bus" to provide a comparison.
There will also be biological samples. China has been launching plant seeds into space for a long time. They are easy to store, take up little space, and can be studied simply by seeing how they germinate after their return. We can safely bet that seeds will be carried on this mission.
There could also be micro-organisms stored in small vials. Cell tissue from more complex animals could also be carried. Perhaps there will even be small insects such as fruit flies. But we can rule out any complex animal life, which requires large and complex life-support systems. The goal will be to fly items that are small and easy to store.
The recent problems experienced by the ill-fated Russian Foton M4 recoverable capsule illustrate how a complex biological package can go wrong. The fruit flies on this mission survived. The geckos did not.
We can probably rule out any centrifuges being included. They are fairly bulky and complex. There are already enough new complexities on this mission, and biological science is really a secondary goal.
China will also probably fly small flags for mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau. These will eventually turn up in museum exhibits.
This mission could easily blast off within a matter of weeks. China has stated that the mission will fly before the end of the year. They will not want to wait for winter to strike with full force, which could complicate the launch and the recovery of the spacecraft. So a launch before mid-November seems certain.
The countdown is on, but China still hasn't said a lot about the mission. This analyst expected more details to emerge by now. Perhaps the slightly covert agendas of this flight, which supports plans for human lunar flight, is producing a tighter veil of secrecy.
Quelle: SD
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Update: 14.10.2014
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China Readies Moon Mission for Launch Next Week

China is preparing to launch a mission next week that will help pave the way for an ambitious lunar sample-return effort.
The upcoming launch of the Chang'e 4 mission is expected to take place Oct. 23 from China's Xichang Satellite Launch Center, and will apparently send an experimental, recoverable probe to lunar orbit and back. The goal is to validate re-entry technology for Chang'e 5, a future robotic mission that will land on the moon, collect samples and return those specimens to Earth.
According to China's State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense, the soon-to-fly craft is a backup probe of Chang'e 3 — the nation's first moon lander and rover, which successfully touched down on Earth's nearest neighbor in December 2013.
Quelle:SC
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Update: 23.10.2014
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China Poised to Launch Next Moon Mission on Thursday
China is set to launch a robotic moon mission this week, a "trial by fire" test of re-entry technology for the country's future lunar sample-return efforts.
To date there has been little official word on this unmanned mission, which may launch as early as Thursday (Oct. 23). It will apparently send a spacecraft around the moon; on its way back toward Earth, the probe will release a capsule to perform a high-speed plunge through the planet's atmosphere. The capsule will parachute onto terra firma to complete its voyage.
The soon-to-launch moon probe is based on China's Chang'e 2 lunar orbiter design and modified to carry the re-entry test capsule. The mission, which some China space watchers are calling "Chang'e 5 T1," is to last some nine days.
Quelle: SC
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Space launch to pave the way for lunar expedition

Test for technology to help probe return to Earth with soil samples
China will launch an experimental spacecraft between Friday and Sunday to test a key technology designed to help a future lunar probe return to Earth with soil samples.
The unnamed spacecraft is due to reach a location near the moon before returning to Earth, said a spokesman for the China National Space Administration, which announced the launch on Wednesday.
It will be China's first lunar module to return to Earth, at a speed close to 11.2 km per second, space experts said.
Hu Hao, chief designer of the lunar exploration program's third phase, said in an earlier interview with China Daily that the re-entry speed could cause the return capsule to overheat or become difficult to track and control.
No simulated tests on Earth can recreate the challenge, he said.
The space agency spokesman said the re-entry will involve one or more "skips" off the Earth's atmosphere to slow the spacecraft before final re-entry. It is due to land in a central area of the Inner Mongolia autonomous region.
Experts said "skip re-entry" could help to disperse the huge amount of heat that is usually generated on faster descents.
Data from the United States' National Aeronautics and Space Administration show that "skip re-entry" technology was used on lunar missions by the former Soviet Union.
If successful, the technology will help the Chang'e-5 lunar probe to return to Earth with lunar soil samples around 2017, the spokesman said.
On Wednesday, technicians at the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Sichuan province began fueling the Long March 3C rocket that will carry the experimental spacecraft.
Rocket expert Jiang Jie said that compared with the previous three launch missions this one poses the sternest test.
"The mission requires that the rocket sends the spacecraft to a fixed spot in space. Any inaccuracy will mean that the spacecraft will fail to enter the moon's orbit," she told China Central Television.
Liu Jianzhong, deputy chief engineer for the Long March 3 series rockets, said the mission will have a launch window of 35 minutes each day between Friday and Sunday.
The national space agency said the experimental mission marks the start of the third phase of China's lunar program featuring probes returning to Earth.
The country launched the Chang'e-1 probe in 2007, Chang'e-2 in 2010 and Chang'e-3 in 2013, completing experiments in orbiting and landing on the moon.
China has one moon rover, the Jade Rabbit, on the lunar surface. This craft, launched as part of the Chang'e-3 mission late last year, has been declared a success by Chinese authorities, although it has been plagued by mechanical troubles.
Quelle: China Daily
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Update: 24.10.2014 
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China launches test return orbiter for lunar mission
An unmanned spacecraft is launched atop an advanced Long March-3C rocket from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwest China's Sichuan Province, Oct. 24, 2014. China launched the lunar orbiter early Friday to test technologies to be used in the Chang'e-5, a future probe that will conduct the country's first moon mission with a return to Earth.
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China launched an unmanned spacecraft early Friday to test technologies to be used in the Chang'e-5, a future probe that will conduct the country's first moon mission with a return to Earth.
The lunar orbiter was launched atop an advanced Long March-3C rocket from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwest China's Sichuan Province.
The test spacecraft separated from its carrier rocket and entered the expected the orbit shortly after the liftoff, according to the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense.
The whole mission will take about eight days. Developed by China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, the spacecraft will fly around the moon for half a circle and return to Earth.
On its return, the test spacecraft will approach the terrestrial atmosphere at a velocity of nearly 11.2 kilometers per second and rebound to slow down before re-entering the atmosphere. It will land in north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.
The mission is to obtain experimental data and validate re-entry technologies such as guidance, navigation and control, heat shield and trajectory design for a future touch-down on the moon by Chang'e-5, which is expected to be sent to the moon, collect samples and return to Earth in 2017.
It is the first time China has conducted a test involving a half-orbiter around the moon at a height of 380,000 kilometers before having the spacecraft return to Earth.
The test orbiter is a precursor to the last phase of a three-step moon probe project, a lunar sample return mission.
China carried out Chang'e-1 and Chang'e-2 missions in 2007 and 2010, respectively, capping the orbital phase.
The ongoing second phase saw Chang'e-3 with the country's first moon rover Yutu onboard succeed in soft landing on the moon in December 2013. Chang'e-4 is the backup probe of Chang'e-3 and will help pave the way for future probes.
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An unmanned spacecraft is launched atop an advanced Long March-3C rocket from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwest China's Sichuan Province, Oct. 24, 2014. China launched the lunar orbiter early Friday to test technologies to be used in the Chang'e-5, a future probe that will conduct the country's first moon mission with a return to Earth.
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The screen shows the launch process of the advanced Long March-3C rocket carrying China's unmanned spacecraft at the Beijing Aerospace Control Center, in Beijing, China, Oct. 24, 2014. China launched the lunar orbiter by the advanced Long March-3C rocket early Friday to test technologies to be used in the Chang'e-5, a future probe that will conduct the country's first moon mission with a return to Earth. The test spacecraft separated from its carrier rocket and entered the expected orbit shortly after the liftoff, according to the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense.
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Technicians monitor the test return orbiter for lunar mission at the Beijing Aerospace Control Center, in Beijing, China, Oct. 24, 2014. China launched the lunar orbiter by the advanced Long March-3C rocket early Friday to test technologies to be used in the Chang'e-5, a future probe that will conduct the country's first moon mission with a return to Earth. The test spacecraft separated from its carrier rocket and entered the expected orbit shortly after the liftoff, according to the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense.
Quelle: Xinhua
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Update: 25.10.2014
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China's lunar orbiter modifies orbit
    
BEIJING, China's spacecraft testing technology for the Chang'e-5 return lunar mission, trimmed its orbit on Friday afternoon.
This was the first modification during a journey scheduled to take about eight days, according to a statement from the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense.
The modification was necessary because the unmanned spacecraft is affected by external factors during the transfer from a terrestrial orbit to a lunar orbit, according to the statement. Updated software allows monitors in Beijing to spot glitches during the journey immediately and respond to them.
The orbiter was launched by a Long March-3C rocket from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwest China's Sichuan Province on early Friday.
Developed by China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, the spacecraft will fly around the moon half a circle and return to Earth.
The mission is to collect data and validate re-entry technology such as guidance, navigation and control systems, and the heat shield in anticipation of a moon landing by Chang'e-5, which will collect samples and return to Earth, probably in 2017.
It is the first time China has conducted a test involving a half-orbit around the moon at a height of 380,000 kilometers before having the spacecraft return to Earth.
The test orbiter is a precursor to the last phase of a three-step moon probe project, a lunar sample return mission.
China carried out Chang'e-1 and Chang'e-2 missions in 2007 and 2010, respectively, capping the orbital phase.
The ongoing second phase saw Chang'e-3 with the country's first moon rover, Yutu, on board succeed in soft landing on the moon in December 2013. Chang'e-4 is the backup probe of Chang'e-3 and will help pave the way for future probes.
Quelle: Xinhua
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Update: 27.10.2014 
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Chinese lunar orbiter prepares for home trip
China's experimental spacecraft, designed to fly around the moon and back to Earth, entered lunar orbit on Monday and is making necessary preparations for its trip back home.
The orbiter, launched Friday last week atop an advanced Long March-3C rocket, entered the Moon's gravitational sphere of influence Monday at noon, and is expected to remain there for the next 32 hours.
It is currently orbiting at around 60,000 kilometers from the moon and is making required adjustments for its transfer from the lunar orbit back to the terrestrial orbit scheduled for late Tuesday.
The test orbiter will then maneuver on the edge of the Earth's atmosphere to slow from a speed of 11.2 kilometers per second before re-entry, a process that generates extremely high temperatures.
The eight-day program is a test run for Chang'e-5, China's fourth lunar probe that is aimed to gather samples from the moon's surface.
Earlier reports said Chang'e-5 will be launched around 2017, marking the last phase of China's three-step moon probe project.
China carried out Chang'e-1 and Chang'e-2 missions in 2007 and 2010, respectively, capping the orbital phase, the first phase of a three-step moon probe project.
The ongoing second phase saw Chang'e-3 soft land on the moon carrying the country's first moon rover Yutu onboard in December 2013. Chang'e-4 is the backup probe of Chang'e-3 and will help pave the way for future probes.
Quelle: Xinhua
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Update: 29.10.2014
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Lunar orbiter to fly back to Earth on Nov. 1
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Quelle: Xinhua
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Update: 1.11.2014 
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China's Chang'e 5-T1 Probe Returns After Rounding Moon
BEIJING — China on Saturday successfully recovered an experimental spacecraft that flew around the moon and back in a test run for the country's first robotic round trip to the lunar surface. The Chang'e 5-T1 probe's eight-day trip marked the first time in almost four decades that a spacecraft has returned to Earth after traveling around the moon.
China plans to send a spacecraft to the moon in 2017 and have it return to Earth after collecting soil samples. The latest mission was aimed at obtaining experimental data and testing technologies for re-entry through Earth's atmosphere involving guidance, navigation and control, heat shield designs, and trajectory fine-tuning for the future moon lander, christened Chang'e 5. The spacecraft returned to Earth using a Soviet-designed method in which it first bounced off the atmosphere in order to slow its entry speed and avoid burning up. It then landed on the grasslands of Inner Mongolia just before dawn.
Quelle: NBC
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Chinese moon orbiter returns from first flight unharmed

BEIJING – China on Saturday successfully recovered an experimental spacecraft that flew around the moon and back in a test run for the country’s first unmanned return trip to the lunar surface.
The eight-day trip marked the first time in almost four decades that a spacecraft has returned to Earth after traveling around the moon. China plans to send a spacecraft to the moon in 2017 and have it return to Earth after collecting soil samples.
If successful, that mission would make China only the third country after the United States and Russia to meet such a challenge.
China’s lunar exploration program has already launched a pair of orbiting lunar probes and last year landed a craft on the moon with a rover onboard. None of those were designed to return to Earth.
China has also hinted at a possible crewed mission to the moon at a FUTURE DATE if officials decide to combine the human spaceflight and lunar exploration programs.
The latest mission was aimed at obtaining experimental data and testing technologies for re-entry to Earth’s atmosphere involving guidance, navigation and control, heat shield designs, and trajectory fine-tuning for the future moon lander, christened Chang’e 5.
The spacecraft returned to Earth using a Soviet-designed method in which it first bounced off the atmosphere in order to slow its entry speed and avoid burning up. It landed on the grasslands of Inner Mongolia just before dawn.
China sent its first astronaut into space in 2003, becoming the third nation, after Russia and the U.S., to achieve manned space TRAVELindependently. It has since launched a temporarily crewed space station and conducted a spacewalk.
China’s program has RECEIVED Russian assistance but has developed independently of America’s, which is now in its sixth decade of putting people into space and has long-term plans to go to an asteroid and Mars.
Alongside the manned and lunar programs, China is DEVELOPINGthe Long March 5 heavier-lift rocket needed to launch a more permanent space station, to be called Tiangong 2.
Quelle: The Japan Times
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Chinese unmanned lunar orbiter returns home, first in nearly four decades
 
 
 
China succeeded Saturday in the world's first mission to the Moon and back for some 40 years, becoming the third nation to do so after the former Soviet Union and the United States.
The test lunar orbiter, nicknamed "Xiaofei" on Chinese SOCIAL NETWORKS, landed in Siziwang Banner of China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region early Saturday morning.
The last documented mission of this kind was by the Soviet Union in the 1970s.
"Xiaofei" is mean to test technologies that will be used in the Chang'e-5 mission, scheduled for 2017 when an unmanned spacecraft will land on the moon, collect a soil sample and return to Earth.
The landing site is about 500 kilometers away from Beijing.
Launched Friday last week, the orbiter traversed 840,000 kilometers on its eight-day mission that saw it round the far side of the Moon and take some incredible pictures of Earth and Moon together.
The re-entry process began at around 6 a.m. Saturday morning, with the orbiter approaching Earth at a velocity of about 11.2 kilometers per second.
The high speed led to hefty friction between the orbiter and air and HIGH TEMPERATURES on the craft's exterior, generating an ion sheath that cut off contact between ground command and the orbiter.
To help it slow down, the craft is designed to "bounce" off the edge of the atmosphere, before re-entering again. The process has been compared to a stone skipping across water, and can shorten the "braking distance" for the orbiter, according to Zhou Jianliang, chief engineer with the Beijing Aerospace Command and CONTROL Center.
"Really, this is like braking a car," said Zhou, "The faster you drive, the longer the distance you need to bring the car to a complete stop."
The "bounce" was one of the biggest challenges of the mission, because the craft must enter the atmosphere at a very precise angle. An error of 0.2 DEGREES would have rendered the mission a failure.
Wu Yanhua, vice director of China's State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense, said the test mission has gathered a lot of experimental data and laid a solid foundation for FUTURE missions.
Quelle: Xinhua
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Update: 2.11.2014
 
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Chinese probe returns from flight around the moon

Completing an eight-day test flight around the moon to verify technologies for a planned lunar sample return mission, an unpiloted Chinese space capsule re-entered Earth’s atmosphere at blazing speed Friday and parachuted to a successful landing.
Images released by China’s official state-run Xinhua news agency showed recovery crews swarming the landing capsule after it touched down at 2242 GMT (6:42 p.m. EDT) Friday in the China’s remote northern region of Inner Mongolia about 300 miles from Beijing.
The landing occurred around dawn Saturday, local time, and the return capsule appeared intact but charred from the heat of re-entry.
The landing vehicle was expected to perform a “skip re-entry” during its descent, using two dips into the atmosphere to dissipate its 25,000 mph return velocity before deploying parachutes for the last phase landing sequence.
The mission — nicknamed Xiaofei, or “little flyer” on Chinese social media networks — launched Oct. 23 from the Xichang space center aboard a Long March 3C rocket.
Traveling 840,000 kilometers — about 520,000 miles — on the round-trip journey, the spacecraft flew around the far side of the moon and returned a dramatic view of Earth and moon perched in the blackness of space.
On the mission’s return leg, the landing capsule separated from a mothership craft for the plunge back into Earth’s atmosphere.
About the size of a washing machine, the landing craft lowered into the atmosphere twice, bouncing back into space and skipping like a rock across water before falling to Earth. Such skip re-entry maneuvers can diminish the speed and reduce the heat encountered by a spacecraft streaking back to Earth.
“Really, this is like braking a car,” said Zhou Jianliang, chief engineer with the Beijing Aerospace Command and Control Center, in a report by Xinhua. “The faster you drive, the longer the distance you need to bring the car to a complete stop.”
“The ‘bounce’ was one of the biggest challenges of the mission, because the craft must enter the atmosphere at a very precise angle,” Xinhua reported. “An error of 0.2 degrees would have rendered the mission a failure.”
The flight around the moon paved the way for the planned Chang’e 5 probe to launch in 2017 and return bits of lunar rock and soil to Earth.
Unofficially called Chang’e 5 T1, the test flight validated heat shield technology, trajectory design, and recovery procedures for the sample return mission, a Chinese scientist said.
The landing capsule’s host platform was expected to fire rocket thrusters after releasing the instrumented re-entry module to dodge Earth and head back out into space for continued operations.
The mission carried a piggyback suitcase-sized instrument package on the Long March rocket’s upper stage made by LuxSpace, a company in Luxembourg that developed the secondary payload to honor the memory of Manfred Fuchs, a pioneer in Europe’s commercial space sector.
Fuchs founded Bremen, Germany-based OHB — LuxSpace’s parent company — and grew it into leading satellite and rocket contractor. He died in April.
The payload package carries a radiation monitor and a radio beacon, and officials expected it to remain in an orbit stretching up to 250,000 miles from Earth aboard the Long March rocket stage.
With Friday’s landing, China became the third country to achieve a round-trip flight around the moon.
China launched two orbiters around the moon — Chang’e 1 and Chang’e 2 — in 2007 and 2010 to survey the lunar surface.
The Chang’e 3 lunar probe landed Dec. 14, 2013, making China the third country to achieve a soft landing on the moon after the United States and the former Soviet Union.
Chang’e 3 deployed a small rover named Yutu, which drove away from the mission’s stationary landing platform, collecting images, studying the composition of the moon’s soil and rocks, and probing the moon’s underground structure with a ground-penetrating radar.
Chinese officials said Yutu suffered a glitch in a control system in January, rendering the rover immobile and exposed to cold temperatures during lunar nights, which last two weeks.
Earlier this month, Xinhua reported the Yutu rover was losing functionality but still alive after nearly 10 months on the moon, surpassing the craft’s original design lifetime of three months.
“Yutu has gone through freezing lunar nights under abnormal status, and its functions are gradually degrading,” said Yu Dengyun, chief designer of China’s lunar probe mission, in a report by Xinhua.
“We hoped the moon rover would go farther, and we really want to find the true reason why it didn’t,” Yu told Xinhua in an interview.
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The landing capsule touched down in China’s Inner Mongolia autonomous region. Credit: Xinhua/Shao Kun
China developed a backup mission for the Chang’e 3 lunar lander. The backup spacecraft, named Chang’e 4, will now help prove systems required for the more ambitious Chang’e 5 mission, Xinhua reported. Details on the specific objectives and planned launch date for Chang’e 4 have not been released by China.
The Chang’e 5 mission will follow with launch in 2017 to collect 2 kilograms — about 4.4 pounds — of soil from beneath the moon’s surface and return it to Earth, Wu Weiren, chief designer of China’s lunar exploration program, told the Xinhua news agency.
“Aside from the high-speed re-entry, major technological challenges for the craft center on surface sampling, taking off from the moon, and lunar orbit rendezvous, Wu said,” Xinhua reported.
China also has plans for a Chang’e 6 sample return mission some time before 2020.
China is studying sending astronauts on lunar missions after scouting the moon with robotic spacecraft, according to official media reports.
Near-term plans for China’s human space program are focused on constructing a space station in low Earth orbit.
Quelle: SN
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Chinese Scientists Believe Recovery of Lunar Oribter Will Advance Space Exploration 
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Niu Hongguang (L), deputy head of the General Armament Department of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA), Xu Dazhe (C), head of the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defence, and Lei Fanpei (R), chairman of the board of China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, attend the handover ceremony of the return capsule of China's unmanned lunar orbiter in Beijing, capital of China, Nov. 2, 2014. [Photo: xinhua]
Chinese scientists say China's successful recovery of an unmanned lunar orbiter will lay a solid foundation for the country's future space program.
China successfully retrieved the orbiter, which flew around the moon in an 8-day trip, before landing on the grasslands of the northern Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region on Saturday.
The recovered spacecraft was developed by the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation. It has been sent to Beijing for scientists to conduct further tests in preparation for future lunar probes.
Yang Mengfei is commander-in-chief for the lunar exploration program at the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation.
"We will run some tests on the capsule based on the degree of burns on its surface. Then we will conduct an analysis based on the data using telemetry. From what we have seen, the capsule is in good condition. It has completed the planned mission and fullfilled all the requirements. The orbiter's trip has been very productive. It will lay a solid foundation for our future space program."
Scientists say the spacecraft returned to earth using a Soviet-designed method in which it first bounced off the atmosphere in order to slow its entry speed and avoid burning up.
The mission was aimed at obtaining experimental data and to test technologies used when re-entering the Earth's atmosphere. These discoveries would be usefull when designing China's future moon-lander, Chang'e 5.
China plans to send the spacecraft to the moon in 2017 and have it return to Earth after collecting soil samples.
If successful, that future mission would make China only the third country after the United States and Russia to take on such a challenge.
Quelle: CRI
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Update: 5.11.2014
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China's 1st Round-Trip Moon Shot Sets Stage for Bigger Lunar Feats

Retrieval team members inspect China's lunar test capsule after its landing on Oct. 31, 2014.
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China has no plans to rest on its laurels after its historic moon mission touched down successfully back on Earth late last week.
A Chinese test capsule parachuted safely to Earth on Friday (Oct. 31, Nov. 1 local China time) after being launched on a slingshot journey around the moon eight days earlier, capping the world's first mission to Earth's nearest neighbor and back in nearly 40 years. China became the third nation to accomplish the feat, after the former Soviet Union and the United States.
Up next for China's multi-step lunar exploration program is Chang'e 4. While details of that mission are sketchy, it is expected to be the country's second lunar lander and rover. Chang'e 4 will also test hardware and procedural techniques useful for the Chang'e 5 sample-return mission scheduled for 2017,
Quelle: SC
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Quelle: Xinhua
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Update: 5.01.2015
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Chinesische Raumsonde auf Mondumlaufbahn zurück
The service module of China's unmanned lunar orbiter is scheduled to return to the moon's orbit in mid-January for more tests to prepare for the country's next lunar probe mission, Chang'e-5.
On Sunday, the service module left the Earth-Moon second Lagrange Point (L2) after circling the point while performing additional tests, the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense (SASTIND) said Monday.
A lunar orbiter is a spacecraft that orbits the moon, and its service module contains support systems used for spacecraft operations.
"It was the first time for a Chinese spacecraft to reach the L2 point, and the service module completed three circles around the point, expanding probe missions," said Zhao Wenbo, vice director of SASTIND's lunar probe and space project center.
As of Monday, the service module was 445,000 kilometers away from Earth and 57,000 km from the moon. All experiments are operating smoothly.
The service module was separated from the test lunar orbiter's return capsule on Nov. 1, and the return capsule returned to Earth on Nov. 1 after circling the moon during its eight-day mission.
China's lunar orbiter program was the world's first mission to the moon and back in some 40 years, making China the third nation to complete a return mission to the moon after the Soviet Union and the United States. 
Quelle: Xinhua
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Update: 13.01.2015
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Servicemodul ders chinesischen Mondorbiter erreicht 127-Minuten-Mond-Umlaufbahn
The service module of China's unmanned test lunar orbiter entered a 127-minute orbit on Tuesday after three orbital transfers since Sunday.
To decelerate the craft enough for it enter its target orbit, the service module conducted three braking maneuvers on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense (SASTIND) announced.
"After the circular flight stabilizes, the module will travel along the current orbit at an altitude of 200 km above the moon's surface for tests to validate key technologies for the next lunar probe mission, Chang'e-5," said Zhao Wenbo, vice director of SASTIND's lunar probe and space project center.
The spacecraft has enough power remaining and is in sound condition, according to SASTIND. Technicians on Earth have exercised timely and stable control, with the tasks of tracing the service module and system tests progressing well.
The lunar orbiter was launched on Oct. 24. The service module was separated from the orbiter's return capsule on Nov. 1, with the capsule returning to Earth on Nov. 1 after circling the moon during its eight-day mission.
The service module reached the Earth-Moon second Lagrange Point (L2) in late November and left the L2 point on Jan. 4 after completing all preset scientific tasks.
The orbiter is a test run for the final chapter of China's three step lunar program -- orbiting, landing and returning.
The obtained data and validated re-entry technology will be used for the development of Chang'e-5, which is slated for launch around 2017.
Quelle: Xinhua
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Update: 14.01.2015
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China puts spacecraft into orbit around the Moon
A mosaic of images taken by China's Chang'e 5-T1 probe as it sailed behind the Moon shows the Earth (centre) and its natural satellite in its several phases and positions. Image credit: China National Space Agency
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Chinese space engineers graduated to a yet another level of sophistication in navigating the lunar neighbourhood this week after placing a spacecraft into orbit around our natural satellite. The Chang’e 5-T1 experimental probe successfully completed three days of orbital manoeuvres on Tuesday, 13 January, entering its final orbit around the Moon just 200 km (125 miles) above its cratered surface, China’s official Xinhua news agency said. The State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense (SASTIND) confirmed that all engine firings on board the probe were successful and the spacecraft was in good condition and under control.  Although China had previously mastered lunar orbiting and landing missions, Chang’e 5-T1 arrived at the Moon not from Earth, but from a region behind it, following an extremely complex trip through deep space. The experimental spacecraft was first launched on 24 October and, after an eight-day mission, it made a loop around the Moon and returned into the Earth's vicinity. At that point, a heatshield-protected capsule, closely resembling a scaled down copy of the Russian Soyuz spacecraft separated from the mothership. The capsule then reentered the Earth's atmosphere and landed, demonstrating the capability to return soil samples from the Moon—a major goal of the Chinese lunar exploration program. In the meantime, the box-shaped main spacecraft flew by the home planet and then revisited the lunar neighborhood. There, it manoeuvred itself into the so-called Lagrange L2 point, one of five areas within the Earth-Moon tandem where gravitational forces of two celestial bodies cancel each other out. As a result, the spacecraft can "hang" in some lagrangian points without use of much propellant. The L2 point, where Chang'e arrived on 27 November, is considered especially important for the future lunar explorers, because of its perfect position for establishing communications between the Earth and practically anywhere on the far side of the Moon. After a month-and-a-half-long spin around the L2 point 421,000 km (260,000 miles) away from the Earth, Chang'e 5-T1 left it on 4 January heading to the Moon 63,000 km (39,000 miles) away.  At 03:00 Beijing Time on Sunday (19:00 UTC on Saturday), the Chang’e 5-T1 spacecraft first eased itself into a 200 by 5,300-km lunar orbit with three engine firings. This initial egg-shaped orbit required around eight hours to make a single revolution around the Moon. The probe then fired its engines again on Monday and Tuesday settling in a 200-km (125-mile) final orbit, where it needs just two hours and seven minutes for each full circle. As a result, the Chang'e 5-T1 mission demonstrated not only the technologies for the immediate next step in the program—the return of soil samples—but also gave Chinese flight controllers an opportunity to practice intricate navigation techniques for future planetary missions. According to the current schedule, the soil-scooping Chang'e-5 spacecraft will be launched around 2017.
Quelle: SEN
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Update: 8.02.2015
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China's lunar probe tests orbit for moon sampling
BEIJING, The service module of China's unmanned test lunar orbiter has finished tests of orbiting technologies needed in a future sampling mission on the Moon.
The orbiter conducted three times of tests between Friday and Saturday to modulate the speed, height and orbit in a simulative moon sampling mission, according to a statement of the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense on Sunday.
Such technologies will possibly be used in the country's next lunar probe mission, Chang'e-5.
The Chang'e-5 probe, expected for launch in 2017, will be tasked with landing on the moon, collecting samples and returning to Earth.
The current lunar orbiter was launched on Oct. 24, 2014. The orbiter's return capsule has returned to Earth in November after circling the moon during an eight-day mission while the service module continues its moon flight to carry out some preset scientific tasks.
Quelle: Xinhua


Tags: Raumfahrt 

2565 Views

Sonntag, 8. Februar 2015 - 10:45 Uhr

Astronomie - Die Oberfläche des Mondes wird von Kratern zerschlagen, er hat aber auch mehr als 200 Löcher

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This is a spectacular high-Sun view of the Mare Tranquillitatis pit crater revealing boulders on an otherwise smooth floor. This image from LRO's NAC is 400 meters (1,312 feet) wide, north is up.
Image Credit: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University
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Lunar Pits Could Shelter Astronauts, Reveal Details of How 'Man in the Moon' Formed
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While the moon's surface is battered by millions of craters, it also has over 200 holes – steep-walled pits that in some cases might lead to caves that future astronauts could explore and use for shelter, according to new observations from NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) spacecraft.The pits range in size from about 5 meters (~5 yards) across to more than 900 meters (~984 yards) in diameter, and three of them were first identified using images from the Japanese Kaguya spacecraft. Hundreds more were found using a new computer algorithm that automatically scanned thousands of high-resolution images of the lunar surface from LRO's Narrow Angle Camera (NAC).
"Pits would be useful in a support role for human activity on the lunar surface," said Robert Wagner of Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona. "A habitat placed in a pit -- ideally several dozen meters back under an overhang -- would provide a very safe location for astronauts: no radiation, no micrometeorites, possibly very little dust, and no wild day-night temperature swings." Wagner developed the computer algorithm, and is lead author of a paper on this research now available online in the journal Icarus.
Most pits were found either in large craters with impact melt ponds – areas of lava that formed from the heat of the impact and later solidified, or in the lunar maria – dark areas on the moon that are extensive solidified lava flows hundreds of miles across. In ancient times, the maria were thought to be oceans; "maria" is the Latin word for "seas." Various cultures have interpreted the patterns formed by the maria features in different ways; for example, some saw the face of a man, while others saw a rabbit or a boy carrying a bundle of sticks on his back.
The pits could form when the roof of a void or cave collapses, perhaps from the vibrations generated by a nearby meteorite impact, according to Wagner. However, he noted that from their appearance in the LRO photos alone, there is little evidence to point to any particular cause. The voids could be created when molten rock flowed under the lunar surface; on Earth, lava tubes form when magma flows beneath a solidified crust and later drains away. The same process could happen on the moon, especially in a large impact crater, the interior of which can take hundreds of thousands of years to cool, according to Wagner. After an impact crater forms, the sides slump under lunar gravity, pushing up the crater's floor and perhaps causing magma to flow under the surface, forming voids in places where it drains away.
Exploring impact melt pits would pin down the nature of the voids in which they form. "They are likely due to melt flow within the pond from uplift after the surface has solidified, but before the interior has cooled," said Wagner. "Exploring impact melt pits would help determine the magnitude of this uplift, and the amount of melt flow after the pond is in place."
Exploring the pits could also reveal how oceans of lava formed the lunar maria. "The mare pits in particular would be very useful for understanding how the lunar maria formed. We've taken images from orbit looking at the walls of these pits, which show that they cut through dozens of layers, confirming that the maria formed from lots of thin flows, rather than a few big ones. Ground-level exploration could determine the ages of these layers, and might even find solar wind particles that were trapped in the lunar surface billions of years ago," said Wagner.
To date, the team has found over 200 pits spread across the melt ponds of 29 craters, which are considered geologically young "Copernican" craters at less than a billion years old; eight pits in the lunar maria, three of which were previously known from images from the Japanese Kaguya orbiter; and two pits in highlands terrain.
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These images from NASA's LRO spacecraft show all of the known mare pits and highland pits. Each image is 222 meters (about 728 feet) wide.
Image Credit: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University
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The general age sequence matches well with the pit distributions, according to Wagner. "Impact melt ponds of Copernican craters are some of the younger terrains on the moon, and while the maria are much older at around three billion years old, they are still younger and less battered than the highlands. It's possible that there's a 'sweet spot' age for pits, where enough impacts have occurred to create a lot of pits, but not enough to destroy them," said Wagner.
There are almost certainly more pits out there, given that LRO has only imaged about 40 percent of the moon with appropriate lighting for the automated pit searching program, according to Wagner. He expects there may be at least two to three more mare pits and several dozen to over a hundred more impact melt pits, not including any pits that likely exist in already-imaged areas, but are too small to conclusively identify even with the NAC's resolution.
"We'll continue scanning NAC images for pits as they come down from the spacecraft, but for about 25 percent of the moon's surface area (near the poles) the sun never rises high enough for our algorithm to work," said Wagner. "These areas will require an improved search algorithm, and even that may not work at very high latitudes, where even a human has trouble telling a pit from an impact crater."
The next step would be to tie together more datasets such as composition maps, thermal measurements, gravity measurements, etc., to gain a better understanding of the environments in which these pits form, both at and below the surface, according to Wagner.
"The ideal follow-up, of course, would be to drop probes into one or two of these pits, and get a really good look at what's down there," adds Wagner. "Pits, by their nature, cannot be explored very well from orbit -- the lower walls and any floor-level caves simply cannot be seen from a good angle. Even a few pictures from ground-level would answer a lot of the outstanding questions about the nature of the voids that the pits collapsed into. We're currently in the very early design phases of a mission concept to do exactly this, exploring one of the largest mare pits."
The research was funded by NASA's LRO project. Launched on June 18, 2009, LRO has collected a treasure trove of data with its seven powerful instruments, making an invaluable contribution to our knowledge about the moon. LRO is managed by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington.
Quelle: NASA

Tags: Astronomie 

1673 Views

Sonntag, 8. Februar 2015 - 10:30 Uhr

Astronomie - NASA´s LRO entdeckt Wasserstoff an Polen vom Mond

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LRO image of the moon's Hayn Crater, located just northeast of Mare Humboldtianum, dramatically illuminated by the low Sun casting long shadows across the crater floor.
Image Credit: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University
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NASA's LRO Discovers Lunar Hydrogen More Abundant on Moon's Pole-Facing Slopes
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Space travel is difficult and expensive – it would cost thousands of dollars to launch a bottle of water to the moon. The recent discovery of hydrogen-bearing molecules, possibly including water, on the moon has explorers excited because these deposits could be mined if they are sufficiently abundant, sparing the considerable expense of bringing water from Earth. Lunar water could be used for drinking or its components – hydrogen and oxygen – could be used to manufacture important products on the surface that future visitors to the moon will need, like rocket fuel and breathable air.
Recent observations by NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) spacecraft indicate these deposits may be slightly more abundant on crater slopes in the southern hemisphere that face the lunar South Pole. "There’s an average of about 23 parts-per-million-by-weight (ppmw) more hydrogen on Pole-Facing Slopes (PFS) than on Equator-Facing Slopes (EFS)," said Timothy McClanahan of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.
This is the first time a widespread geochemical difference in hydrogen abundance between PFS and EFS on the moon has been detected. It is equal to a one-percent difference in the neutron signal detected by LRO's Lunar Exploration Neutron Detector (LEND) instrument. McClanahan is lead author of a paper about this research published online October 19 in the journal Icarus.
The hydrogen-bearing material is volatile (easily vaporized), and may be in the form of water molecules (two hydrogen atoms bound to an oxygen atom) or hydroxyl molecules (an oxygen bound to a hydrogen) that are loosely bound to the lunar surface. The cause of the discrepancy between PFS and EFS may be similar to how the Sun mobilizes or redistributes frozen water from warmer to colder places on the surface of the Earth, according to McClanahan.
"Here in the northern hemisphere, if you go outside on a sunny day after a snowfall, you'll notice that there's more snow on north-facing slopes because they lose water at slower rates than the more sunlit south-facing slopes" said McClanahan. "We think a similar phenomenon is happening with the volatiles on the moon – PFS don't get as much sunlight as EFS, so this easily vaporized material stays longer and possibly accumulates to a greater extent on PFS."
The team observed the greater hydrogen abundance on PFS in the topography of the moon's southern hemisphere, beginning at between 50 and 60 degrees south latitude.  Slopes closer to the South Pole show a larger hydrogen concentration difference. Also, hydrogen was detected in greater concentrations on the larger PFS, about 45 ppmw near the poles. Spatially broader slopes provide more detectable signals than smaller slopes. The result indicates that PFS have greater hydrogen concentrations than their surrounding regions. Also, the LEND measurements over the larger EFS don't contrast with their surrounding regions, which indicates EFS have hydrogen concentrations that are equal to their surroundings, according to McClanahan. The team thinks more hydrogen may be found on PFS in northern hemisphere craters as well, but they are still gathering and analyzing LEND data for this region.
There are different possible sources for the hydrogen on the moon. Comets and some asteroids contain large amounts of water, and impacts by these objects may bring hydrogen to the moon. Hydrogen-bearing molecules could also be created on the lunar surface by interaction with the solar wind. The solar wind is a thin stream of gas that's constantly blown off the Sun. Most of it is hydrogen, and this hydrogen may interact with oxygen in silicate rock and dust on the moon to form hydroxyl and possibly water molecules. After these molecules arrive at the moon, it is thought they get energized by sunlight and then bounce across the lunar surface; and they get stuck, at least temporarily, in colder and more shadowy areas.
Since the 1960's scientists thought that only in permanently shadowed areas in craters near the lunar poles was it cold enough to accumulate this volatile material, but recent observations by a number of spacecraft, including LRO, suggest that hydrogen on the moon is more widespread.
It's uncertain if the hydrogen is abundant enough to economically mine. "The amounts we are detecting are still drier than the driest desert on Earth," said McClanahan. However, the resolution of the LEND instrument is greater than the size of most PFS, so smaller PFS slopes, perhaps approaching yards in size, may have significantly higher abundances, and indications are that the greatest hydrogen concentrations are within the permanently shaded regions, according to McClanahan.
The team made the observations using LRO's LEND instrument, which detects hydrogen by counting the number of subatomic particles called neutrons flying off the lunar surface. The neutrons are produced when the lunar surface gets bombarded by cosmic rays. Space is permeated by cosmic rays, which are high-speed particles produced by powerful events like flares on the Sun or exploding stars in deep space. Cosmic rays shatter atoms in material near the lunar surface, generating neutrons that bounce from atom to atom like a billiard ball. Some neutrons happen to bounce back into space where they can be counted by neutron detectors.
Neutrons from cosmic ray collisions have a wide range of speeds, and hydrogen atoms are most efficient at stopping neutrons in their medium speed range, called epithermal neutrons. Collisions with hydrogen atoms in the lunar regolith reduce the numbers of epithermal neutrons that fly into space. The more hydrogen present, the fewer epithermal neutrons the LEND detector will count.
The team interpreted a widespread decrease in the number of epithermal neutrons detected by LEND as a signal that hydrogen is present on PFS. They combined data from LEND with lunar topography and illumination maps derived from LRO's LOLA instrument (Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter), and temperature maps from LRO's Diviner instrument (Diviner Lunar Radiometer Experiment) to discover the greater hydrogen abundance and associated surface conditions on PFS.
In addition to seeing if the same pattern exists in the moon's northern hemisphere, the team wants to see if the hydrogen abundance changes with the transition from day to night. If so, it would substantiate existing evidence of a very active production and cycling of hydrogen on the lunar surface, according to McClanahan.
The research was funded by NASA's LRO mission. LEND was supplied by the Russian Federal Space Agency Roscosmos. Launched on June 18, 2009, LRO has collected a treasure trove of data with its seven powerful instruments, making an invaluable contribution to our knowledge about the moon. LRO is managed by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington.
Quelle: NASA

Tags: Astronomie 

2682 Views

Samstag, 7. Februar 2015 - 20:15 Uhr

Raumfahrt - DARPA’s Airborne Launch Assist Space Access program (ALASA) zielt darauf ab, 100-Pfund-Satelliten in erdnahen Orbit (LEO) innerhalb von 24 Stunden zu bringen

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DARPA’s Airborne Launch Assist Space Access program (ALASA) seeks to propel 100-pound satellites into low Earth orbit (LEO) within 24 hours of call-up, all for less than $1 million per launch. The program is moving ahead with rigorous testing of new technologies that one day could enable revolutionary satellite launch systems that provide more affordable, routine and reliable access to space.

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hrough its Airborne Launch Assist Space Access (ALASA) program, DARPA has been developing new concepts and architectures to get small satellites into orbit more economically on short notice. Bradford Tousley, director of DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office, provided an update on ALASA today at the 18th Annual Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)’s Commercial Space Transportation Conference in Washington, D.C. Tousley discussed several key accomplishments of the program to date, including successful completion of Phase 1 design, selection of the Boeing Company as prime contractor for Phase 2 of the program, which includes conducting 12 orbital test launches of an integrated prototype system.
“We’ve made good progress so far toward ALASA’s ambitious goal of propelling 100-pound satellites into low Earth orbit (LEO) within 24 hours of call-up, all for less than $1 million per launch,” Tousley said. “We’re moving ahead with rigorous testing of new technologies that we hope one day could enable revolutionary satellite launch systems that provide more affordable, routine and reliable access to space.”
Launches of satellites for the Department of Defense (DoD) or other government agencies require scheduling years in advance for the few available slots at the nation's limited number of launch locations. This slow, expensive process is causing a bottleneck in placing essential space assets in orbit. The current ALASA design envisions launching a low-cost, expendable launch vehicle from conventional aircraft. Serving as a reusable first stage, the plane would fly to high altitude and release the launch vehicle, which would carry the payload to the desired location.
“ALASA seeks to overcome the limitations of current launch systems by streamlining design and manufacturing and leveraging the flexibility and re-usability of an air-launched system,” said Mitchell Burnside Clapp, DARPA program manager for ALASA. “We envision an alternative to ride-sharing for satellites that enables satellite owners to launch payloads from any location into orbits of their choosing, on schedules of their choosing, on a launch vehicle designed specifically for small payloads.”
ALASA had a successful Phase 1, which resulted in three viable system designs. In March 2014, DARPA awarded Boeing the prime contract for Phase 2 of ALASA.
Because reducing cost per flight to $1 million presents such a challenge, DARPA is attacking the cost equation on multiple fronts. The Phase 2 design incorporates commercial-grade avionics and advanced composite structures. Perhaps the most daring technology ALASA seeks to implement is a new high-energy monopropellant, which aims to combine fuel and oxidizer into a single liquid. If successful, the monopropellant would enable simpler designs and reduced manufacturing and operation costs compared to traditional designs that use two liquids, such as liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen.  
ALASA also aims to reduce infrastructure costs by using runways instead of fixed vertical launch sites, automating operations and avoiding unnecessary services. Phase 1 of the program advanced toward that goal by making progress on three breakthrough enabling technologies:
Mission-planning software that would streamline current processes for satellite launches
Space-based telemetry that would use existing satellites instead of ground-based facilities to monitor the ALASA vehicle
Automatic flight-termination systems that would assess real-time conditions during flight and end it if necessary
DARPA plans to continue developing these capabilities in Phase 2 and, once they’re sufficiently mature, intends to eventually transition them to government and/or commercial partners for wider use in the space community.
Pending successful testing of the new monopropellant, the program plan includes 12 orbital launches to test the integrated ALASA prototype system. Currently, DARPA plans to conduct the first ALASA flight demonstration test in late 2015 and the first orbital launch test in the first half of 2016. Depending on test results, the program would conduct up to 11 further demonstration launches through summer 2016.
If successful, ALASA would provide convenient, cost-effective launch capabilities for the growing government and commercial markets for small satellites. “Small satellites in the ALASA payload class represent the fastest-growing segment of the space launch market, and DARPA expects this growth trend to continue as small satellites become increasingly more capable,” Burnside Clapp said. “The small-satellite community is excited about having dedicated launch opportunities, and there should be no difficulty finding useful payloads.”
Quelle: DARPA

Tags: Raumfahrt 

1743 Views

Samstag, 7. Februar 2015 - 17:00 Uhr

Raumfahrt - NÄCHSTE GENERATION DER CHINESISCHEN RAUMFAHRZEUGE : LM-7-Prototyp im Test

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30.01.2015

LM-7 Assembly
The LM-7 prototype is assembled at the Wenchang Satellite Launch Center (China's equivalent to Cape Canaveral) for non-flight testing. Fitting all the rocket segments and boosters allows for vibration testing and validating models on fuel flows and stress loads.
On the tropical island Hainan, Wenchang Satellite Launch Center got its very first heavy rocket. The Long March 7 (LM-7), built by the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASTC), will likely not launch until 2016, but Chinese engineers have assembled it on the launch pad's mobile service structure in order to test its systems for preflight and integration quality assurance.
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LM-7
The testing LM-7 space launch rocket its attached to the erector pad at Wenchang, China. The erector pad is attached to the rocket to keep it upright as it transits from the preparation facility out into the launch pad.
The LM-7 is a mid-heavy weight, 600 ton launch rocket, similar to the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. It is likely to replace the man-rated Long March 2 rocket, which is currently used to launch China's manned Shenzhou space missions. However, the LM-7 is estimated to carry 13.5 tons (depending on booster rocket configuration) of cargo in low earth orbit, which is a 50% increase over the LM-2. Its 3.35 meter core diameter would allow it to carry most commercial payloads, as well as larger scientific payloads into sun synchronous orbits to observe space weather activity like solar flares.
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Complete LM-7
The LM-7 rocket can be attached with four solid fuel rocket boosters, in order to carry its maximum 13.5 ton payload into low earth orbit.
The LM-7, along with the lighter Long March 6 and heavier Long March 5, will act as China's next generation of space launch vehicles. Chinese advances in space launch technology will see not only an increased military presence in orbit, but also scientific cooperation and even lunar exploration.
Quelle:PS
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Update: 7.02.2015
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Beijing's rocket plans reveal ambitious space program

Beijing has shipped its liquid-fuelled carrier rocket, the Long March 7, to its Wenchang Satellite Launch Center in Hainan province for tests in preparation for the rocket's first launch next year, reports China's Global Times.
The rocket is fueled by a non-toxic and non-polluting liquid diesel and its modular design allows for modification of the engine and propeller to accommodate various spacecraft.
The country has also scheduled a test launch of the Long March 5 this year, touted to have the same payload as the US launch systems Delta IV, Atlas V and Falcon 9.
Beijing considers its billion-dollar space program as a sign of its rising international status and technological improvement as well as evidence that its ruling party has successfully turned the country's fate around, reported the Japan Times. The People's Liberation Army has plans to establish a permanent space station in 2020 and eventually launch a manned mission to the moon.
China has already been evaluating the possibilities and requirements for the Long March 7's next generation, new multi-stage rocket named Long March 9. The rocket aims to have a payload equivalent to the US launch vehicle Jupiter, with a maximum payload of 130 tons, according to Liang Xiaohong, vice director of the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology. The rocket's first test launch has been planned for 2028.
The Long March 9 suggests China has a long-term, methodical strategy toward space programs and Chinese space program planners believe that they will continue to receive funds and political support from President Xi Jinping, said Asia Pacific Defense Forum, a magazine sponsored by the US Pacific Command.
Ralph Winnie, who leads Eurasian Business Coalition's China program, said during the forum that China's space programs have won the support of the country's public and leaders and have a dramatic impact on public opinion, boosting Chinese society's confidence and instilling a belief that China and its people can overcome any challenge or difficulty.
Quelle: China Times

 



Tags: Raumfahrt 

1751 Views

Freitag, 6. Februar 2015 - 17:00 Uhr

Raumfahrt - Raketen Treibstofftank Re-Entry landet auf brasilianischen Farm

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A newspaper in Campo Grande Brazil has reported the Dec. 28 reentry of a piece of space junk that landed on a farm in Santa Rita do Pardo, a town of about 7,000 people in the west-central region of the country.

The object, which the Brazilian Space Agency later identified as a spacecraft propellant tank, measures 1.7 meters tall and weighs 50 lbs. It fell 50 meters from a house.
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The space agency said it's not clear whether the tank belongs to a satellite or a launch vehicle. It looks a bit like the fuel tanks on the Falcon 9 and Delta 4 Heavy upper stages – both of which launched from Cape Canaveral, Fla., in December.
Quelle: AviationWeek

Tags: Raumfahrt 

2114 Views

Freitag, 6. Februar 2015 - 16:30 Uhr

Raumfahrt - NASA verschrottet Space Shuttles Portal für Jumbo-Jets in Florida

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NASA's Shuttle Carrier Aircraft moves into position under shuttle Endeavour, suspended in the Mate-Demate Device at the Shuttle Landing Facility at the Kennedy Space Center in 2012. (NASA)

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One of NASA's last remaining structures unique to supporting the space shuttle is no more.
The Mate-Demate Device, which for 35 years was used at NASA's Kennedy Space Center to mount and remove the space shuttles from the back of their transport jumbo jets, has been demolished. The towering gantry was toppled to make way for the Florida space center's current and future needs, NASA reported on its website on Wednesday (Feb. 4).
"The MDD was a solid, well-built structure," Ismael Otero, the project manager for NASA's Construction of Facilities Division in Center Operations, said in the NASA interview. "We started the demolition project in October, and it was completed on Nov. 26, [2014]."
When the space shuttles returned from orbit to anywhere other than Kennedy, they were ferried back to the Florida spaceport riding atop one of NASA's two modified Boeing 747 jetliners, referred to as Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA). After arriving at Kennedy's Shuttle Landing Facility (SLF), the orbiter-topped jets were positioned under the 105-foot-high (32-meter) MDD to hoist the shuttle off of the aircraft.
The Mate-Demate Device, which stood at the northeast corner of the ramp to the runway, was also used when the shuttles needed to be flown away from Florida, either for maintenance in California while the fleet was still flying or to their museum homes at the completion of their 30 years of service in 2011.
The gantry's last use at Kennedy was to mate the shuttle Endeavour to an SCA on Sept. 14, 2012. Five days later, the shuttle-jet combination took off for Los Angeles where Endeavour was delivered to the California Science Center for public display.
The device's demolition got underway just over two years later with its electrical systems being disconnected and its movable access platforms being dismantled. The massive cranes that lifted the space shuttles were also removed.
"Welders [then] used cutting torches to begin the process of weakening the primary load-bearing steel beams of the structure, creating wedge-shaped sections," Otero stated. "A Komatsu hydraulic excavator later pulled the sections from a safe distance."
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Kennedy Space Center's Mate-Demate Device is brought down by a hydraulic excavator. The shuttle-era structure was demolished to make way for future space program needs. (NASA)
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The excavator uses a cutting tool on the end of its arm to slice the steel beams, NASA's release explained.
"Material handlers simply pulled on the weakened support beams. The first one broke quickly — but as more weight was placed on the others, the process slowed. The fourth and final one took three hours of pulling before giving way as planned," Otero said.
The tower then toppled forward, starting the breakup of the facility. Workers spent most of November 2014 cutting the structure apart into sections that could be recycled.
"Altogether we recycled about 844,700 pounds of steel, tin and aluminum from the MDD," Otero said.
The MDD was erected at Kennedy Space Center in 1978. According to NASA, it was first tested on Oct. 19 of that year, when Pathfinder, a shuttle mockup, was attached for a fit-check. (Pathfinder, which was later modified to look more like the flown-in-space orbiters, is exhibited today at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Alabama.)
The Mate-Demate Device could lift up to 230,000 pounds (104,000 kilograms). A large lift beam mounted at the 80-foot (24 m) level attached to the orbiters by a sling to raise and lower them as needed.
A similar device was erected at NASA's Armstrong (then Dryden) Flight Research Center in southern California. Put into service in 1977, the west coast MDD was last used to lift the shuttle Discovery following the STS-128 mission in 2009.
The MDD at Armstrong was demolished between August and October 2014.
Quelle: CS

Tags: Raumfahrt 

2108 Views

Freitag, 6. Februar 2015 - 09:59 Uhr

Astronomie - Neueste Meldung vom Urknall

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LMU cosmologist Viatcheslav Mukhanov models the first instants after the creation of our Universe. Data from the Planck telescope have now confirmed beyond any reasonable doubt his theory of the quantum origin of structure in the Universe.

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The Universe – as seen by Planck. Source: ESA and the Planck Collaboration
What exactly happened after the Universe was born? Why did stars, planets and huge galaxies form? These are the questions that concern Viatcheslav Mukhanov, and he tries to find the answers with the help of mathematical physics. Mukhanov, Professor of Physics at LMU, is an acknowledged expert in the field of Theoretical Cosmology – and he has used the notion of so-called quantum fluctuations to construct a theory that provides a precise picture of the crucial initial phase of the evolution of our Universe: For without the minimal variations in energy density that result from the tiny but unavoidable quantum fluctuations, one cannot account for the formation of stars, planets and galaxies that characterize the Universe we observe today. 
The Planck Consortium has now published new analyses of data returned by the eponymous space telescope. The telescope on board of the Planck satellite has measured the distribution of the cosmic microwave background radiation (CMB), which, in essence, tells us what the Universe looked like about 400,000 years after the Big Bang. These latest findings are in complete agreement with the predictions of Mukhanov’s theory – for example, his calculation of the value of the so-called spectral index of the initial inhomogeneities. As Jean-Loup Puget, Principal Investigator for the HFI-instrument on the Planck satellite, stated: “The Planck data confirm the basic predictions that quantum fluctuations are at the origin of all structures in the Universe.” Mukhanov, who first published his model in 1981 and joined the Physics Faculty at LMU in 1997, says “I couldn’t hope for a better verification of my theory.”
Messages from the remote past
For Mukhanov, the idea that quantum fluctuations must have played a role in the very earliest phase of the history of the Universe is implicit in Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle. Heisenberg showed that there is a specific limit to the precision with which the position and the momentum of a particle can be determined at any given moment. This in turn implies that the initial matter distribution will inevitably exhibit minute inhomogeneities in density. Mukhanov’s calculations first demonstrated that such quantum fluctuations could give rise to density differences in the early Universe, which in turn could serve as seeds for the galaxies and their clusters. Indeed, without quantum fluctuations, whose nature and magnitude Mukhanov quantitatively characterized, the observed distribution of matter in the Universe would be inexplicable.
The latest study of the Planck datasets is more detailed and more informative than the preliminary analysis published about 2 years ago. It reveals with unprecedented precision the patterns imprinted by primordial fluctuations on the distribution of radiation in the young Universe. Thus, instruments such as the Planck telescope can record these dispatches from an unimaginably remote past encoded in the microwave radiation that is still propagating through space – 13.8 billion years later. And from this information the Planck team can reconstruct a detailed picture of the distribution of matter at the birth of our Universe.
No observational evidence for gravitational waves
Furthermore, the Planck data show that a previously reported signal purportedly confirming the existence of so-called primordial gravitational waves can be largely attributed to dust in our own galaxy. The BICEP2 team is using a ground-based telescope in the Antarctic to search the CMB for signs of gravity waves produced immediately after the Big Bang. In March 2014, the team reported the detection of the long-sought pattern. However, doubts soon emerged regarding this interpretation. Now a joint analysis by the Planck and BICEP2 teams has concluded that the data do not actually provide observational evidence for gravitational waves. In the spring of 2014 Viatcheslav Mukhanov had already asserted that, if the theory is correct, then the BICEP2 and Planck teams could not both be right. Thus this latest Planck-BICEP2 analysis reassures us that the theoretical framework is well-founded. “Gravitational waves may well be there,” he said then, “but clearly our instruments are not yet sensitive enough to pick them up.” ­– Regardless of whether or not the search for primordial gravitational waves succeeds, he adds, no model that tries to capture the immediate aftermath of the Big Bang can now leave the quantum origin of the Universe’s structure out.
Quelle: LMU

Tags: Astronomie 

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Freitag, 6. Februar 2015 - 09:38 Uhr

Astronomie - Jupiter und seine Monde im Focus von Hubble

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Jupiter and five moons
These annotated images, taken by the Hubble Space Telescope, show Jupiter with five of its moons: Io, Callisto, Europa, Amalthea and Thebe.
February 6, 2015, 12:36 a.m.
NASA, ESA and Z. Levay (STScI/AURA)
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Here's a photo-op pretty enough to tempt any astronomer. With a series of well-timed shots, NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has managed to catch three of Jupiter’s biggest moons whizzing across its surface in the same frame.
This Jovian lunar gathering, which took place Jan. 24, is a relatively rare event -- it happens only once or twice a decade. Hubble had to snap a series of images in fairly quick succession to capture the brief moment when all three could be seen hovering over the colorfully banded planet.
The three moons, Europa, Callisto and Io, are three of the four Galilean satellites -- so named because astronomer Galileo Galilei discovered them in 1610. (The largest, Ganymede, was off-screen and too far to be considered part of the conjunction.) These four moons are Jupiter’s largest, and among the largest bodies in the solar system.
To put that in perspective: these four moons are bigger than all the dwarf planets, Pluto and Ceres included. Three of them (Ganymede, Callisto and Io) are all larger than Earth's moon, and Ganymede is larger than the planet Mercury.
In this image, the Jovian moons are traveling from the bottom left toward the top right as they cross Jupiter’s midriff, and their shadows are cast far in front of them; near the beginning of conjunction, Callisto’s shadow looks like it’s almost directly beneath Io. 
The Hubble images also showcase in a single frame how different each of these moons are. Io, the leading moon at the top right, is an orange-yellow world, riddled with active volcanoes. Callisto, second in line, is ancient, cratered and brownish in color. Europa, the trailing moon in the bottom left, is a yellow-white, reflecting the ice covering its frozen exterior. (Europa has come to the forefront recently as one of the "water-worlds" in our solar system that may hide a subsurface ocean, and hold the potential for life.)
The shadows give away how far the moons are from the surface: A sharper shadow means the moon is close to Jupiter’s thick cloud tops, and a fuzzier one means it’s farther away, as the shadow spreads out over larger distances. Io, the innermost Galilean satellite, has a shadow like a clean circle; Callisto, the farthest of the four major moons, leaves a much fuzzier outline.
Jupiter’s Galilean satellites have a special place in the history of astronomy: showing that tiny celestial bodies were orbiting larger ones directly contradicted the Aristotelian view of the heavens, which held that all bodies -- the planets, the moon, even the sun -- circled the Earth. More than two decades later, Galileo was put on trial during the Roman Inquisition for presenting a "Copernican" view of the solar system. He was placed under house arrest, where he remained until his death.  
Quelle: Los Angeles Times
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Spechtel-Tips für die nächsten (hoffentlich) klare Nächte:
Jupiter reaches opposition on February 6, 2015. Find out how to see the planet king at its best.
If you've ventured out at night this winter season, you may have noticed the dazzle of Jupiter among the stars of Leo and Cancer. This is undoubtedly the best time of the year to view the king of the planets. It reaches opposition on February 6th, which means that — assuming clear weather and dark skies — it's easily spotted with the naked eye from dusk to dawn. Appearing low in the east at twilight, Jupiter rises through the southeast sky to shine high in the south around midnight. It's bright this month, too, opening February at this year's peak magnitude of –2.6 and dimming only to –2.5 by month's end. It's not surprising that Jupiter's a favorite target for naked-eye observing. It's up all night, it's bright, and its distinctive yellow-orange color makes it easy to identify.
Jupiter is also a favorite target for observers with binoculars and telescopes, partly because of the variability of its features. As S&T Senior Editor Alan McRobert noted recently, "There's always something happening on Jupiter," and even a modest telescope can be used to see the subtly shifting "stripes" that comprise the planet's zones and belts. Move up to a 6-inch scope and add an appropriate filter, and the horizontal bands become even more readily apparent.To highlight the Great Red Spot and the burnt-umber equatorial belts, experiment with blue (Kodak Wratten number) 38A; medium blue 80A; or light blue 82A filters. Try a yellow 8 or 12, or even a yellow-green 11, to darken the blue festoons (the thin, dark streamers that cut from belt to zone) or to increase the contrast in the polar regions. If you're having trouble detecting the festoons, consider a red 21, 23, or 25. I've found that a red filter really increases the visibility of the blue regions. It should also sharpen the definition between the zones and belts.
But don't let me determine your filter choice. Although generally it's good advice to use a filter opposite in color to the feature you're trying to highlight, Jupiter is a quickly-changing target and observing preferences aren't universal. Filters may help, but they're not required! Visit John McAnally's observing guide for more tips on observing Jupiter.
Almost any kind of Jupiter observation requires familiarity with the correct names for the various belts and zones. Here south is up; in an inverting telescope such as a Newtonian reflector, or a refractor, Schmidt-Cassegrain, or Maksutov used without a star diagonal, north will be down and east to the right. Telescopes used with a star diagonal will have north up but east and west reversed. The planet's rotation causes features to move from east (following) to west (preceding).
Sky & Telescope Illustration
Jupiter rotates quickly — a revolution takes just under 10 Earth hours — so even a few hours of viewing can bring a lot of variety to the eyepiece. And if you return to Jupiter night after night, year after year, the changes might seem dramatic. For example, the size, shape, and color of the Great Red Spot has changed with time; as the storm continues to rage, it rotation period has changed, along with its maximum wind speed. If you'd like to study this feature for yourself, take advantage of the S&T Great Red Spot JavaScript Utility.
The mutable nature of Jupiter's features make the planet an observing challenge: although easily located in the sky, you could spend the rest of your life swapping out filters and eyepieces to study zones, belts, rifts, and storms.
Truthfully, telescopes aren't even required for the most fun you'll have with this planet. A set of hobby binoculars will reveal some of Jupiter's best features: its moons. In my 8 x 42 binoculars, Jupiter is a gleaming white disk, noticeably broader than a star. Flanking the disk, in a slightly ragged formation, are three (or four, on a good night) star-like points. These gleams are Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto, the Galilean moons, named so after Galileo Galilei, who first spotted them through a telescope. Galileo noted the location of the moons each night for several months and included a chart of their locations in his 1610 book, Sidereus Nuncius (Sidereal Messenger).
Original configurations of Jupiter’s satellites observed by Galileo in January, February, and March 1610, and published with the 1st edition of his book Sidereus Nuncius, Venice, 1610.
Project Gutenberg
There are plenty of tools for predicting the location of Jupiter's moon available today, including our own iPhone/iPad app, JupiterMoons, and our Jupiter's Moons JavaScript Utility, but replicating Galileo's chart is a good beginning observing project. Which is more challenging to see, the planet-hugging Io and Europa, or the wide wanderer Callisto? How long does it take Ganymede to circle Jupiter? Let us know the outcome of your royal visit(s)!
Quelle: Sky&Telescope

Tags: Astronomie 

2020 Views

Donnerstag, 5. Februar 2015 - 22:19 Uhr

Raumfahrt - Mars Orbiter HIRISE sieht Mars Rover Curiosity bei der Arbeit

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A Dec. 13, 2014, image from the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera orbiting Mars shows NASA's Curiosity Mars rover on the rover's walkabout examination of the "Pahrump Hills" outcrop.
The outrcrop forms part of the basal layer of Mount Sharp inside Mars' Gale Crater.
Since landing in Gale Crater in 2012, Curiosity has been examining evidence about ancient wet environments.
HiRISE is one of six instruments with which NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has been studying Mars since 2006.
Quelle: NASA

Tags: Raumfahrt 

1907 Views


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