Category Archives: Chinese space

Following the demise of China’s Tiangong-1 space station

The Chinese derelict Tiangong-1 space station will soon hit Earth’s atmosphere as it makes an unpowered, uncontrolled reentry. Much of it will be burnt up but some of the 9 tonne spacecraft will reach the ground (or more likely, the ocean waves).  The current estimate is that the station will meet its doom sometime on April 1st (and that’s no joke).

The Virtual Telescope’s WebTV  is offering updates on the space station’s return: Watch China’s Tiangong-1 Space Station in Real Time As It Nears Its Demise – Space.com.

It’s unclear how much of Tiangong-1 will survive the journey, but it’s possible some pieces will fall to the ground. The station has an orbital inclination between 43 degrees north and 43 degrees south latitudes, so it could fall anywhere within those bands. But experts point out that Tiangong-1 is much smaller than the NASA Skylab space station, parts of which crashed into remote areas of Australia in 1979, so most of it may burn up during re-entry. Tiangong-1 weighs only 8.5 metric tons (9.4 tons), compared to Skylab’s 100 tons.

Tracking of the station’s orbit is available at

More about Tiangong-1:

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Chinese release images taken by lunar lander and rover

A large gallery of images of the Moon and the lunar surface taken by the Chinese lander Chang’e-3 and the Yutu rover have been released:

Here’s a sample:

Change3_aYutu takes a picture of Chang’e 3

YutuRover_bA view of the rover after it rolls down from the Chang’e 3.

YutuRover_aThe Yutu rover.

Change3AsSeenByRover_aYutu looks back at the lander.

Emily Lakdawalla at the Planetary Society talks about the images: Fun with a new data set: Chang’e 3 lander and Yutu rover camera data – The Planetary Society

Chinese lunar test vehicle sends great image of Earth and Moon

The Chinese Chang’e 5 T1 spacecraft was launched on October 23rd as a technology test for a lunar sample return mission planned for 2017. The T1 has done a fly-by of the Moon and will re-enter the earth’s atmosphere on Friday and land in Mongolia.

Some great pictures taken from the fly have been posted at xinhuanet.com. More about the images at

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Space Calendar for May 26 – June 1, 2014

The latest issue of the Space Calendar from Space Age Publishing is now available: May 26 – June 1, 2014 / Vol 33, No 21 / Hawai`i Island, USA –

The first item is about the status of the Chinese lander and rover on the Moon:

China-Lunar-Exploration-Program[1]

The only nation active on the surface of the Moon, China, maintains successful operations of its Chang’e-3 Lander and Yutu Rover now in Lunar Night 6. Although Yutu has incurred mechanical issues, it continues to respond to ground control teams well past its 3-month given lifetime. Chang’e-3 Lander with Lunar Ultraviolet Telescope and Extreme Ultraviolet Camera, is also expected to perform past its December 14, one-year / thirteen-Lunar Day lifetime.

The spacecraft hibernate / awake cycle is determined by astronomical factors (estimated here by SPC / ILOA), mechanical functions and performance, and ground control teams at the Very Long Baseline Interferometry center in Shanghai and observation stations in Xinjiang, Kunming and Beijing. Chang’e-4 (the twin of Chang’e-3) is being reconfigured due to the mission success; it may launch with different instruments to a new location or be combined with a future mission.

Preparing for Phase 3, the Chang’e-5 sample return mission test satellite is scheduled to launch this June to attempt a Lunar Orbit Transfer and return to Earth. (Image Credit: ILOA, SPC, CNSA, Chinese Academy of Sciences, D. Davis)

See the Change’3/Yutu timetable here.

Continue for more Space Calendar news…