China's space station plan delayed for 'technical reasons'

March 3, 2010
Models of the Long March rocket are seen at the Sichuan Science and Technology Museum in Chengdu, southwestern China. China has postponed the next step in its ambitious space station programme until 2011 for technical reasons, state media said.

China has postponed the next step in its ambitious space station programme until 2011 for technical reasons, state media said Wednesday.

China had originally planned to place the Tiangong-1 space module in orbit late this year and undertake experimental docking manoeuvres in subsequent missions, Xinhua news agency cited rocket designer Qi Faren as saying.

But the initial launch has now been delayed by a year due to "technical reasons", Qi said, without elaborating.

Qi was speaking to the media on the sidelines of a meeting of a legislative advisory body, which convened on Wednesday, two days before the start of the annual session of China's rubber-stamp parliament.

became the third nation to put a man in space when Yang Liwei piloted the one-man Shenzhou-5 in 2003.

In September 2008, the Shenzhou-7, piloted by three "taikonauts" or astronauts, carried out China's first space walk.

The Tiangong-1, or "Heavenly Palace," is seen as the building block of China's maiden .

Weighing about 8.5 tonnes, it would provide a "safe room" for Chinese astronauts to live in and conduct research in .

After being placed in orbit, the Tiangong-1 would dock with the unmanned Shenzhou-8 spacecraft in the country's first -- a feat to be controlled remotely by scientists on the ground.

Qi said Shenzhou-9 and Shenzhou-10, carrying two to three astronauts, would also dock with the orbiting module in successive years.

He said other key technologies being worked on in the space station programme include the replenishment of propellant, air, water and food for the space module as well as a life support system.

The began with the launch into orbit of the first station element, a Russian-built module, in 1998. The first full-time crew arrived two years later.

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frajo
1 / 5 (1) Mar 03, 2010
China's rubber-stamp parliament
Interesting to learn something about the neutrality of a news agency.
yyz
not rated yet Mar 04, 2010
The Chinese space program is enshrouded in MORE secrecy than the old Soviet space program. It seems like wishful thinking that the Chinese can cleverly pull off manned missions beyond (Low-Earth Object) LEO ANYTIME soon. Who would know and state these details to Chinese or international astronautical bodies. Lie low, keep 'em guessing. Oh, and wait for the first fatal Chinese mission. The US had its share in Mercury and Apollo missions, I'd 'guess' the Chinese are at a level of expertise similar to the mid-Gemini program, with rendezvous, docking and more EVAs on the docket.

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