Shenzhou-10: China launches next manned space mission

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China has launched its latest Shenzhou manned space mission.


Three astronauts blasted away from the Jiuquan base in Inner Mongolia on a Long March 2F rocket at 17:38 Beijing time (09:38 GMT).

The commander, Nie Haisheng, and his crew, Zhang Xiaoguang and Wang Yaping, plan to spend just under two weeks at the orbiting Tiangong space lab.

Wang is China's second female astronaut and she will beam the country's first lesson from space to students on Earth.

The crew's capsule was ejected from the upper-stage of the rocket about nine minutes after lift-off. Mission controllers clapped enthusiastically once the ship's solar panels had been deployed.

Written By: Jonathan Amos
continue to source article at bbc.co.uk

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    • In reply to #1 by Alan4discussion:

      With the major manned orbiting facility of the ISS, attracting the media, some people have not taken much notice of the Chinese working on their own small habitable space-lab.

      China’s ten year mark of manned space flight is garnering some media attention.

  1. Europe in particular has opened a dialogue that could eventually result in flight opportunities for its astronauts on the proposed Chinese space station.

    Excellent. Cooperation is the name of the game.

    • In reply to #4 by This Is Not A Meme:

      I’ve long been impressed with Chinese engineering. I’ve been trying to figure out these finger-cuff things for a while now.

      Amazing, and you can still type. Bravo!

  2. Wang is China’s second female astronaut and she will beam the country’s first lesson from space to students on Earth.

    Great! A woman in space is a powerful symbol, especially a woman teacher. Bravo China.

  3. I don’t understand why so many people who like science and research want to see more manned space exploration. There is very little in the way of actual research that a human can do right now that a machine can not. And for that perhaps 10% more in research capability you get with a human the cost is exponentially more. One hundred times as expensive at a minimum, probably more. So the question I always ask the people who want more manned exploration is why should we do it? What is different about data that is gathered by a man rather than a robot? And if we are exploring space to further science shouldn’t we want to do it in the way that is going to yield the most useful data?

    • In reply to #8 by Red Dog:

      So the question I always ask the people who want more manned exploration is why should we do it? What is different about data that is gathered by a man rather than a robot? And if we are exploring space to further science shouldn’t we want to do it in the way that is going to yield the most useful data?

      Cuz I want to go, and I kinda see that as the whole point. I want humans to become a different species through space travel, just as we are a different species for the steam-engine. I believe photos of the Earth from the Moon changed humanity, gave us a new perspective, one that is more conducive to peace, reason, and science.

      • In reply to #9 by This Is Not A Meme:

        In reply to #8 by Red Dog:
        Cuz I want to go, and I kinda see that as the whole point.

        That’s not a rational argument. That’s an emotional statement. We wouldn’t think a Christian who refused to believe the science of evolution had a very compelling counter argument if they said “because evolution offends me, that’s the whole point”

        I think its our destiny, etc. too. And I think its inspiring as well. But what really inspires me isn’t the fact that we send men into space or that we plant a flag but that we have a better understanding of the universe via scientific research. So it seems rational to me that we use the techniques that will give us the most useful scientific data and right now that is clearly robots. When the technology gets more advanced the economics and rationales for sending humans into space will change. And when that happens I’ll be one of the first to volunteer. But until that time decisions like this should be based on science not emotions. So why is it worth sacrificing more and better scientific data just so people like you can feel more inspired?

        I want humans to become a different species through space travel, just as we are a different species for the steam-engine.

        I agree. But what changed us was the new technology and science. And that’s my point, the best way to get good science in space right now is with robots.

        I believe photos of the Earth from the Moon changed humanity, gave us a new perspective, one that is more conducive to peace, reason, and science

        Robots can take pictures. And as for the new perspective, etc. it seems to me that is also driven by the new knowledge we obtain, not by the fact that the way we obtained it happened to be with a human picking up a rock rather than a machine. Why is all this new perspective somehow different if its humans getting the data? I mean imagine if this argument were applied to other domains:

        “We have to remove those automated monitoring computers from the LHC, we need humans to record the information. The new knowledge of physics we get from the LHC will give us a new perspective, one that is more conducive to peace, reason, and science…. and so it makes a difference whether its machines or humans who collect the data!”

        We wouldn’t take it seriously. It doesn’t matter whether a human or a computer collects the data, we want to use the best method (most accurate and cost effective) to even consider other issues would be ridiculous in the case of the LHC. Its only because so many of us have grown up watching Star Trek that we give these kinds of emotional arguments credence in space exploration.

      • In reply to #9 by This Is Not A Meme:

        Cuz I want to go, and I kinda see that as the whole point. I want humans to become a different species through space travel, just as we are a different species for the steam-engine.

        There are specific tasks where humans are more versatile than machines – mainly near Earth and on the Moon or at asteroids in the near future. On long trips and for extended periods at great distances, robots are better easier to support, and more effective.

        I believe photos of the Earth from the Moon changed humanity, gave us a new perspective,

        It did – but then so did “The Pale Blue Dot” and pictures of the outer planets and moons, from robot/remote cameras!

        one that is more conducive to peace, reason, and science.

        I think this is wishful thinking! There has been far more money and effort put into military surveillance from space! Even the design of the Space Shuttle was initially to meet military objectives.

    • In reply to #8 by Red Dog:

      I don’t understand why so many people .. want to see more manned space exploration.

      Think of it as a publicity stunt if you must. There is something inspiring about the sheer audacity of getting people up there and safely back, and if that something inspires another generation of kids to work on the robot probes that you like, then you too should be pleased.

      Yes you can do more science, get more data, spend less money – and worry less about losing one – with robot probes. It’s the sensible, cautious, risk-averse approach. No wonder it’s not as thrilling. The 1960s wouldn’t have been nearly as interesting if it had been a race to get a sample-return robotic mission to the moon and back, now would it?

      • In reply to #18 by OHooligan:

        It’s the sensible, cautious, risk-averse approach. No wonder it’s not as thrilling. The 1960s wouldn’t have been nearly as interesting if it had been a race to get a sample-return robotic mission to the moon and back, now would it?

        The Russians did use robot probes to get Moon-surface samples.

        Moon rock

        There are currently three sources of Moon rocks on Earth:

        1. those collected by US Apollo missions;
        2. samples returned by the Soviet Union Luna missions; and
        3. rocks that were ejected naturally from the lunar surface by cratering events and subsequently fell to Earth as lunar meteorites.

        During the six Apollo surface excursions, 2,415 samples weighing 382 kg (842 lb) were collected, the majority by Apollo 15, 16, and 17.

        The three Luna spacecraft returned with an additional 0.32 kg (0.7 lb) of samples.

        Since 1980, over 120 lunar meteorites representing about 60 different meteorite fall events (none witnessed) have been collected on Earth, with a total mass of over 48 kg (105.8 lb).

        The Apollo samples showed the greater selectivity, mobility over an extended area, and the sheer volume of material which could be obtained by astronauts. This is one example of where manned missions did a better job.

        Robot probes are more appropriate for more distant and longer missions.

      • In reply to #18 by OHooligan:

        Think of it as a publicity stunt if you must. There is something inspiring about the sheer audacity of getting people up there

        That’s an emotional argument. I don’t think we should use emotional arguments to justify things anymore. They tend to get us in trouble. Have you read Pinker’s book The Better Angels? He makes a great case there for why the world is actually a better place in many ways now in big part because practicality and reason are taking the place of emotions. Emotions justify things like wars and racial hatred. Sometimes they can be turned to good use. The question is which is more important here? You seem to think inspiring people is more important than science. I think science is more important.

        Imagine we had an astrophysicist on this thread. She wants to do a robotic experiment but the funding got cut in order to send a manned mission to Mars. Do you really think that is a rational trade off? We should accept getting a lot less science so people can be inspired? And I don’t know about your kids but my daughter is amazingly apathetic about sending people to space as I am sure would be all her friends. Its mostly older guys like you and me who are into it. So to me what you are really arguing is the equivalent of saying “we don’t want you to spend that money on more science, we want a megaBillion dollar Star Trek themed parade instead because that is going to inspire us!”

        and safely back, and if that something inspires another generation of kids to work on the robot probes that you like, then you too should be pleased.

        This isn’t about me “liking” robots. Or wanting to see more funded research on robots. Unlike aerospace computer science people don’t need to gen up demand, we get plenty from the free market.

        Yes you can do more science, get more data, spend less money – and worry less about losing one – with robot probes. It’s the sensible, cautious, risk-averse approach. No wonder it’s not as thrilling. The 1960s wouldn’t have been nearly as interesting if it had been a race to get a sample-return robotic mission to the moon and back, now would it?

        Robotics and computers weren’t at the maturity in the 60′s that they are today. The first computer I was responsible for in the early 80′s was the size of a refrigerator and had about as much processing power as my iPod. So all the way back in the 60′s putting a smart computer into space actually was less cost efficient then using humans.

        • In reply to #20 by Red Dog:

          In reply to #18 by OHooligan:

          That’s an emotional argument. I don’t think we should use emotional arguments to justify things anymore.

          You’re coming across like Mr Spock now.

          Anyway it wasn’t an emotional argument. I meant it as an observation on how the emotional side can be usefully harnessed to bring in funding for the logical, rational goal of doing more science. The emotional ride of beating them Ruskies to the moon was also a lot more positive than an emotional ride into battle on earth. Humans aren’t Vulcans, so you have to accommodate the emotion somehow.

          As a driver for advancing technology and science, the manned missions were outstanding. We can quibble about the back seat that science had to take – only the last visit to the moon brought an actual scientist, as opposed to test pilots – but, given the risky nature of the enterprise, that’s hardly worth complaining about. The complaints all went the other way with respect to the unfortunate schoolteacher who won her way onto the Challenger.

          Sorry to hear about the lack of interest either way from a younger generation. Maybe it’s time to leave manned missions to the tourist industry, the Chinese, and the Russians. No harm in that, since none of them are going to fund your science projects anyway.

          • In reply to #23 by OHooligan:

            You’re coming across like Mr Spock now.

            Works for me :) I’ve actually re-watched the original episodes recently and I was amazed at how Spock is invariably right and McCoy (who I’m sure would be on your side “I’m a doctor not an accountant damn it!”) was invariably wrong.

          • In reply to #24 by Red Dog:

            In reply to #23 by OHooligan:

            You’re coming across like Mr Spock now.

            Works for me :) I’ve actually re-watched the original episodes recently and I was amazed at how Spock is invariably right and McCoy (who I’m sure would be on your side “I’m a doctor not an accountant damn it!”) was invariably…

            I’m glad it works for you. May you live long and prosper. As for Bones, I’m certainly with him as regards Transporters. Wouldn’t trust one myself.

  4. The “clean” flames of the rocket’s boosters is striking.
    The boosters used by NASA produce an opaque smoke (zinc sulphide ?)

    Does anyone know (or can guess) what the Chinese may be using – the booster rockets are surely not liquid fueled.

    • In reply to #11 by judithjmidwinter:

      The “clean” flames of the rocket’s boosters is striking. The boosters used by NASA produce an opaque smoke (zinc sulphide ?)

      Does anyone know (or can guess) what the Chinese may be using – the booster rockets are surely not liquid fueled.

      The Chinese have changed the fuels as their rocket technology developed.

      Long March (rocket family) – Propellants

      Long March 1‘s 1st and 2nd stage uses nitric acid and UDMH propellants, and its upper stage use a spin-stabilized solid rocket engine.

      Long March 2, Long March 3, Long March 4, the main stages and associated liquid rocket boosters use dinitrogen tetroxide as the oxidizing agent and UDMH as the fuel. The upper stages (third stage) of Long March 3 rockets use YF-73 and YF-75 engines, using Liquid hydrogen (LH2) as the fuel and Liquid oxygen (LOX) as the oxidizer.

      The new generation of Long March rocket family, Long March 5, and its derivations Long March 6, Long March 7 will use LOX and kerosene as core stage and liquid booster propellant, while LOX and LH2 in upper stages.

      http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2013/06/china-launch-three-shenzhou-10/

      For the CZ-2F launch vehicle, the LB-40 strap-on boosters have a length of 15.326 meters, diameter of 2.25 meters, a gross mass of 40,750 kg and an empty mass of 3,000 kg. Each booster is equipped with a fixed nozzle YF-20B engine that consumes UDMH/N2O4 developing 740.4 kN of sea lever thrust. Burn time is 127.26 seconds.

  5. Just some summary thoughts. On many issues i’m on what most people consider the left but on things like this I’m a Libertarian. The argument for manned exploration boils down to “yes we get much less science but its worth it because it inspires people”. My main counter argument is that trading off a lot of good science (because IMO there is at a very minimum a ten to one disparity in the space science you can do with machines vs. humans) for inspiration isn’t a rational trade off, even for people who (like me actually) do find manned space research inspiring. But my secondary argument is that even if the economics were different, say manned exploration was only 20% less efficient, I would still be against it on philosophical grounds.

    It shouldn’t be the business of government to inspire people. Inspiration is subjective and one person’s inspiration is another person’s depression. The Creationists who want to build replicas of Noah’s arc using government money would claim that they are inspiring people too.

    • In reply to #21 by Red Dog:

      My main counter argument is that trading off a lot of good science (because IMO there is at a very minimum a ten to one disparity in the space science you can do with machines vs. humans)

      I’m not sure where these figures came from! Man v machine in space, is very much a case of resources and capabilities. There have been quite a lot of failed satellites (Hubble) which have been repaired by astronauts. This is one of the benefits of attaching kit to the ISS, where it can be accessed if need be. The downside, as you say, is the overhead cost of maintaining a human habitation in space, – and in setting suitable health and safety standards. Robots often do not need a return trip. Time-scale and location are the key factors, but as with the earlier Moon-rock example, it is not always clear cut!

      She wants to do a robotic experiment but the funding got cut in order to send a manned mission to Mars.

      You are right to point out the “either – or mentality”, in which political gimmicks divert attention and resources away from key areas of science. The science on Apollo missions, was almost an afterthought.

      It shouldn’t be the business of government to inspire people.

      Here I would strongly disagree if you are talking about science rather than fuzzy satisfied feelings. Government investment in inspirational science, is what drives the technical progress separating backward states from modern industrial educated ones.

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