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back to article Chinese 'nauts couple successfully without help of machines

The three Chinese astronauts currently residing in the Heavenly Palace have managed to successfully dock their ship with the Tiangong-1 manually, the first time China has tried such a thing. Liu Wang, Jing Haipeng and Liu Yang got back into the Shenzhou-9 over the weekend, which had already berthed automatically with Tiangong- …

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Love the name

You can have the International Space Station, or you can have the Heavenly Palace. The latter sounds a lot more fun!

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Re: Love the name

Sure, if you want a double plate of #3 with extra meat and some fried donuts on the side. Me, I'll stick with the stodgy old kind of name that just goes and tells you what the thing is that has it.

(Why not make jokes? -- what, they aren't hanging arses and middle digits out the windows at us as they rudely swerve into the passing lane on Imperial Motorway and prepare to make us eat their dust? OK, granted, that's more the Russian style, but still.)

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Boffin

Re: Love the name

The Amis wouldn't let the Chinese play with the toys in what they regard as their sandbox (despite a lot of other countries and institutions who contributed to building it wanting the Chinese in), so the Chinese decided to build their own. They have even invited others to join with them and last year German scientists participated in 17 biological experiments in connexion with the launching of Shenzhou-8. Nice civilised behaviour ; hope those chaps on the other side of the Pond will learn from the example. But then again, they have to contend with a Frank Rudolph Wolf, which could lead to lapses in civility on anybody's part....

Henri

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Well done

Liu Yang is the first female astronaut from the PRC.

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Headmaster

...to gently meet at thousands of miles an hour

I appreciate how bloody difficult it is to dock in space, and getting a decent intercept orbit can't be easy, but quite frankly it's not like the closure velocity is 7.7 km/s (circular orbit at 400km), It akin to me saying how bloody dangerous it is for me to park my car seeing as I'm travelling Mach 0.84 (at 52 degrees North)

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Gav
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Headmaster

Re: ...to gently meet at thousands of miles an hour

You are travelling much,much faster than that... relative to the centre of the universe.

Pedantry, but about as significant as the these crafts' speed relative to a point on the Earth's surface.

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Re: ...to gently meet at thousands of miles an hour

But to catch up with something ahead of you in orbit you have to slow down (and go into a lower faster orbit).

To slow down you have to speed up backwards, to stop slowing down you need to drive forwards, every manouver you make uses fuel which changes the CofG of the vehicle, before you can start a burn you need another burn to slosh all the fuel to the bottom of the tank...and so on.....

So worse than parking a transit van with a broken wing mirror.

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Terminator

The Reg needs a new sub-category: The Rise of the Chinese

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Taikonauts

I guess I'm going to have to get used to that word.

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Re: Taikonauts

You're going to be seeing it a lot.

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Coat

Re: Taikonauts

Taikonauts - people who deliver taik-aut Chinese food?

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Re: Taikonauts

It's the sequel to Tim Schafer's legendary platformer - SET IN SPACE!

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China

The Chinese people seem to be picking up the slack for NASA and RosCosmos, good for them.

I hope they try their own version of the Orion drive so we can finally have a decent shot at reaching one of the numerous exoplanets we have found.

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What's this 'we' shit, Kemo Sabe?

You think we're going to get cut in on whatever they find out, except at cost-plus? Fair enough, I say; we're mercantile enough ourselves, but let's not pretend that "exploring space for the betterment of mankind" is anything other than now rather outdated NASA PR, shall we?

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Re: What's this 'we' shit, Kemo Sabe?

'We' already are - we helped them develop their first telecoms sat because export restrictions wouldn't let us launch a Eu built sat on a Chinese rocket because it contained US components.

A bit like how we were banned from using Sharp/Toshiba LCDs in our computers in the 80s to protect our domestic LCD technology - good job the Japanese could never work out how to make laptops wasn't it ?

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Anonymous Coward

A little perpesctive here

It is one thing to be the first (or second) to accomplish something - but so far all the Chinese have done is duplicate 30+ year old technology.

Not exactly blazing new trails, are they.

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Re: A little perpesctive here

Yeah, but they're doing it, which is a lot more than can be said for the US's spavined excuse for a space program -- and the less said about the British Lunar Expedition of the '70s, the better.

(* What lunar expedition?)

(** Exactly.)

PS: I would note the word is 'perspective'.

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Re: A little perpesctive here

It's not that easy - the technical challenges of making a decent cup of tea in free fall are considerable, but as soon as they are solved the UK's space program is back on track.

IIRC one of their earlier craft used a wooden heatsheild which suggests they have stolen plans of the Morris Traveller

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Re: A little perpesctive here

It's probably more like a Nash Rambler than a Silver Cloud, but, heck, it's paid for.

And they don't have to car pool to save gas money.

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E 2

If it were the Japanese...

coupling without machines that would be much more surprising.

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Memories.

I miss the days that WE were doing this. But I"m glad SOMEONE is, no matter who. That's whats the most important.

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Re: Memories.

You miss 1965 when the Gemini program successfully docked in space? Back then they used less computing power than comes with your musical birthday card.

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Joke

In the future the PRC, Russians, and Iran will from its own space faring alliance. Just like the late 90's PC game StarLancer!

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The problem with docking with the Heavenly Palace is that thirty minutes later, you want to dock all over again.

It looks like the Chinese have caught up to the US in space technology, Gemini 1965 space technology.

Can I get a Wo Ping? Woooooooooooo Pinggggg!

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WTF?

Yes, let's all diss the Chinese...

First they ignore you.

Then they laugh at you.

And then you win.

Quite a lot of El Reg readers seem to be at No. 2 but you can bet the Chinese have their eyes fixed on No. 3.

ISS is slated to decommision around 2020. There is no, and likely there will be no, political will to set up a replacement. People talk about Bigelow and his inflatable modules but I haven't seen or heard of any announcements from Bigelow or anyone else saying that, "Construction will begin in..." or, "The first launch will be on..."

So, barring changes and developments, the only space station in orbit in 2021 will be a Chinese one. I'd call that success.

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Alien

I always needed a docking computer meself

But they could spend it instead on an escape pod, or a fuel scoop

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Boffin

«It's pretty difficult to get two big pieces of expensive equipment

to gently meet at thousands of miles an hour, ...» Brid-Aine, I know you mean well, but isn't about time that all Reg bloggers who feel called upon to comment upon space endeavours first learn the concept of Gallilean invariance (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galilean_invariance) ? How fast the two objects in question were moving relative to our frame of reference here on the planet's surface is irrelevant ; what is at issue is how fast they were moving relative to each other. As Galileo pointed out 380 years ago in his Dialogo sopra i due massimi sistemi del mondo, that's the reason we are not blown off the Earth as it spins. After all, Galileo's work was removed from Index Librorum Prohibitorum as early as 1835, so presumably it's safe for Reg bloggers to read it now....

Henri

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