Picking Up Where We Left Off

NASA may be grounded, but the Chinese are just getting warmed up.

Rocket launches Chinese space lab

A rocket carrying China’s first space laboratory, Tiangong-1, has launched from the north of the country.

The Long March vehicle lifted clear from the Jiuquan spaceport in the Gobi Desert at 21:16 local time (13:16 GMT).

The rocket’s ascent took the lab out over the Pacific, and on a path to an orbit some 350km above the Earth.

The 10.5m-long, cylindrical module will be unmanned for the time being, but the country’s astronauts, or yuhangyuans, are expected to visit it next year.

Tiangong means “heavenly palace” in Chinese.

See also:
“Heavenly Palace:” China’s dream home in space
Space flight in service of science
Tiangong-1 blasts off
China’s Space Launch Closes Gap With U.S.
China launches Heavenly Palace space station module
China launches module for space station
China launches 1st space station module
China Launches Spacecraft, Eyes Space Station
China Launches ‘Heavenly Palace-1’ Into Space; Takes Step Toward Station
China Set to Launch Its Own Space Station; Mission: Unknown
China Launches Space Lab; An Insider Look Into China Space Program
Rocket’s red glaring error: China sets space launch to America the Beautiful
Tiangong 1

Okay, so the Chinese are still quite a ways behind the U.S. space program.

/but hey, at least they have an active space program

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Lost In Space Again

When it comes to launching satellites, the Russians can’t seem to catch a break.

Russia Loses Contact With Satellite After Rocket Launch

Russia’s Federal Space Agency lost contact with a new communications satellite shortly after it launched into space due to an apparent communication glitch on the spacecraft’s rocket, Russia’s space agency has reported.

The satellite, called Express-AM4, blasted off atop a Proton rocket on Wednesday (Aug. 17) at 5:25 p.m. EDT (2125 GMT) from the central Asian spaceport of Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, where it was early Thursday morning local time.

According to a translated statement posted in Russian to the country’s Federal Space Agency website, officials said flight controllers lost contact with the satellite due to an apparent communications problem with the Proton rocket’s Breeze M upper stage. Later, another statement suggested that the rocket stage may have been found though the status of the Express-AM4 satellite was unclear.

. . .

The new rocket malfunction is the latest of several embarrassing Russian launch failures or incidents for Russia’s space program in a single year.

See also:
Missing satellite found off designated orbit
Lost Russian satellite found in wrong orbit
Russia loses newly launched telecom satellite
Russian Inquiry Into Express-AM4’s Anomaly…
Russia loses contact with $265-million Express-AM4 satellite shortly after launch
Satellite loss deals ‘severe blow’ to Russia: experts
Powerful communications satellite feared lost in space
Contact lost with freshly launched satellite in Russia
Missing satellite found off designated orbit
Russia loses contact with satellite after launch: reports
Russian Federal Mission Express-AM4 Anomaly Investigation Underway
Russia loses contact with just-launched £160m satellite in latest setback for its space industry
Russia loses contact with Europe’s biggest communications satellite
Russian satellite missing within hours of takeoff
Russia Loses Contact With Newly-Launched Satellite

Looking on the bright side, at least they don’t currently have this sort of problem with their manned space flights.

/which is a really good thing since, now that the U.S. space shuttle program is grounded, we depend on Russia to ferry out astronauts back and forth from the International Space Station

Christmas Fail

India’s space program gets a lump of coal in their Christmas stocking.

Indian Rocket Explodes Seconds After Liftoff

An Indian space rocket carrying an advanced communications satellite exploded in smoke and fire just seconds after lifting off from a launch pad at the Sriharikota space center in Andhra Pradesh state, about 50 miles from the city of Chennai.

The Christmas Day launch of the satellite had originally been planned for December 20, but was delayed after engineers discovered a leak in one of the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle’s (GSLV) engines, the United News of India reported.

The GSLV was carrying a GSAT-5P communication satellite into orbit when it strayed from its planned flight path, and was deliberately blown up by mission control 47 seconds after liftoff, according to state-owned Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) Chairman K. Radhakrishnan.

Radhakrishnan said the GSLV developed an error shortly after takeoff, and then lost command, resulting in a higher angle in the flight.

“That caused a higher stress, breaking up the vehicle,” he said.

The GSLV exploded “at an altitude of 4.9 miles (8 km) and the debris have fallen in deep sea,” Radhakrishnan said.

See also:
Indian space rocket explodes soon after launchIndian rocket explodes after take-off
Indian rocket explodes on launch
Satellite-Carrying Indian Rocket Explodes After Launch
Unmanned Indian rocket explodes
GSAT-5P, GSLV-F06 were not insured
ISRO teams analysing data to pinpoint GSLV failure
Heavier payload caused Indian rocket’s failure: Expert
Disaster leaves Isro with 1 cryo engine
GSLV failures fuel disappointment and anxiety
GSLV failure sparks safety fears for 2016 manned space flight

Apparently, this isn’t the first time this particular type of rocket has failed.

/India might want to rethink their plans to use these rockets for manned flights