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China launched its 1st unmanned Cargo Spacecraft on a mission to dock with the country’s space station

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Long March-7 rocket carrying Tianzhou-1 cargo spacecraft lifts off from the launching pad in Wenchang, Hainan province, China, April 20, 2017. VOA

China on Thursday launched its first unmanned cargo spacecraft on a mission to dock with the country’s space station, marking further progress in the ambitious Chinese space program.

The Tianzhou 1 blasted off at 7:41 p.m. (1141 GMT) atop a latest-generation Long March 7 rocket from China’s newest spacecraft launch site, Wenchang, on the island province of Hainan.

Minutes later, as the spacecraft cleared the atmosphere, the mission was declared a success by administrators at ground control on the outskirts of Beijing.

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It is programmed to conduct scientific experiments after reaching the now-crewless Tiangong 2, China’s second space station. A pair of Chinese astronauts spent 30 days on board the station last year.

China launched the Tiangong 2 precursor facility in September and the station’s 20-ton core module will be launched next year. The completed 60-ton station is set to come into full service in 2022 and operate for at least a decade.

Communications with the earlier, disused Tiangong 1 experimental station were cut last year and it is expected to burn up on entering the atmosphere.

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China was excluded from the 420-ton International Space Station mainly due to U.S. legislation barring such cooperation and concerns over the Chinese space program’s strong military connections.

Chinese officials are now looking to internationalize their own program by offering to help finance other countries’ missions to Tiangong 2.

Since China conducted its first crewed space mission in 2003, it has staged a spacewalk and landed its Jade Rabbit rover on the moon. A mission to land another rover on Mars and bring back samples is set to launch in 2020, while China also plans to become the first country to soft-land a probe on the far side of the moon.

The two-stage, medium lift Long March 7 is expected to form the backbone of China’s rocket fleet, and burns a fuel combination that is safer and more environmentally friendly.

It is tasked with the launch of the Shenzhou capsules that have carried out six crewed missions and, along with the heavy lift Long March 5, is key to the assembly of the Tiangong 2. (VOA)

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‘Dalai Lama is a Political Figure under the cloak of Religion, Meeting or Hosting the Dalai Lama is a major offence’ Warns China

In April this year, China had reacted violently to a visit by the Dalai Lama to Tawang, in India’s northeast border state of Arunachal Pradesh, large parts of which is claimed by Beijing.

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Dalai Lama
The 14th Dalai Lama, Wikimedia

Beijing, October 21, 2017 : As US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson prepares to visit India next week, China on Saturday warned that it will be deeply offended if any foreign leader meets with or any country invites the Dalai Lama.

On the sidelines of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, a Chinese Minister dubbed the Tibetan spiritual leader as a “political figure under the cloak of religion”.

“Any country or any organisation or anyone accepting to meet with the Dalai Lama in our view is a major offence to the sentiment of the Chinese people,” said Zhang Yijiong, Executive Vice Minister of the United Front Work Department of the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC).

“Also, since they have committed to recognising China as a sole legitimate government representing China, it contravenes their attempt, because it is a serious commitment,” Zhang added.

China accuses the Dalai Lama of stoking unrest and secessionist activities in Tibet from where the spiritual leader fled to India in 1959 after a failed uprising.

The Dalai Lama has urged for more autonomy for Tibet.

Beijing opposes any country or leader keeping in touch with the Dalai Lama.

“I want to make it clear that the 14th Dalai Lama, the living Buddha handed down by history is a political figure under the cloak of religion,” said Zhang.

In February this year, Tillerson had told members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during his confirmation hearing that he is committed to promoting dialogue on Tibet and receiving the Dalai Lama.

Top US Democrat Nancy Pelosi had visited the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala, India, in May, and sought to draw the world’s attention to human rights in Tibet, triggering protests by China.

China resorts to different tactics if any country hosts the Dalai Lama. For instance, Beijing blocked a major highway leading to Mongolia, crippling the economy there after Ulan Bator hosted the leader late last year.

Mongolia later apologised and promised Beijing never to invite the Dalai Lama.

“Officials, in their capacity as officials, attending all foreign-related activities represent their governments. So I hope governments around the world speak and act with caution and give full consideration to their friendship with China and their respect for China’s sovereignty,” Zhang added.

The comments from the Chinese Minister also comes days after Tillersoon described India as a partner in a strategic relationship and said the US would “never have the same relationship with China, a non-democratic society”.

According to reports, last month China refused to fund travel for visiting scholars at University of California, San Diego, apparently in retaliation for inviting the Dalai Lama to be its 2017 commencement speaker.

In April this year, China had reacted violently to a visit by the Dalai Lama to Tawang, in India’s northeast border state of Arunachal Pradesh, large parts of which is claimed by Beijing. (IANS)

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An Out-of-control Chinese Space Station is Falling Towards The Earth! Should we be Worrying About Tiangong-1?

Scientists speculate that parts of Tiangong-1, weighing as much as 100kg may crash on the Earth’s surface.

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Tiangong-1
Tiangong-1 was used for multiple manned and un-manned space missions before authorities lost control of the Chinese space station (representative image) Wikimedia

China, October 16, 2017: An out of control Chinese space station, weighing 8.5 tonnes, is falling towards the Earth and will crash land on the surface within a few months, experts say.

The Chinese space laboratory, Tiangong-1, or the ‘Heavenly Palace’ was launched in 2011, symbolic of the hopes of the Chinese ambitions in space. It was also believed to be a stepping stone to establish China as a global ‘space’ superpower.

Tiangong-1 was used for multiple space missions, some of which even included astronauts – the space station was also visited by the first female astronaut from China, Liu Yang, in 2012.

Harvard astrophysicist Jonathan McDowell has now revealed that the space station is descending quickly to the earth and will crash on the planet’s surface ‘soon’.

The ‘Out of Control’ Tiangong-1

Scientists had long speculated the strange behavior of Tiangong-1. Finally, in 2016, officials at China’s CNSA space agency had confirmed that they had lost complete manned control of Tiangong-1 and that the space station would now be descending towards the Earth.

According to The Guardian, McDowell was quoted as saying “(we) expect it will come down a few months from now – late 2017 or early 2018.” 

Where Will Tiangong-1 Crash?

At the moment, is practically impossible for scientists and engineers to confirm about the precise landing site as the capsule is completely beyond human control.

Researchers believe the descent is now going to be guided and influenced by the wind.

The industry enthusiast Jonathan McDowell had previously told The Guardian that even a slight change in the atmospheric conditions could push the landing site “from one continent to the next.”

Does The Crash-Landing of Tiangong-1 Pose A Threat To Life?

Tiangong-1 is expected to hit the Earth’s surface is late 2017 or early 2018.

Scientists are also examining the possibility of the debris from the craft causing casualties upon landing. While most of the craft is expected to burn up in the atmosphere, parts weighing as much as 100kg can be expected to crash on the Earth’s surface.

ALSO READ China launched its 1st unmanned Cargo Spacecraft on a mission to dock with the country’s space station

The possibility of the debris from Tiangong-1 falling in populated regions cannot be precisely calculated, however authorities believe that is likely to not happen.

In May this year, China had additionally informed the United Nations “Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space” that the descent of the space craft will be closely monitored and the United Nations will be duly informed when it takes it final plunge.

Tiangong-1 will not be the first to descend from the space with parts of the debris falling on the Earth. Previously,

  • 1979: NASA’s gigantic Skylab space station, weighing 77-tonne uncontrollably shot down to the Earth with large chunks of the craft landing near Perth in Western Australia.
  • 1991: Soviet Union’s Salyut 7 space station, weighing 20-tonne had crashed to the Earth while it was still docked to another spacecraft called Cosmos 1686 and had broken up over Argentina, throwing debris all over the town Capitán Bermúdez.

Tiangong-1 had been launched on 29 September, 2011, as a long-term mission, with an aim to establish a Chinese outpost in space. However, the out of control Chinese space station is now expected to crash land on the Earth ‘soon’.

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China pays Tribute to Mahatma Gandhi, Celebrates Gandhi Jayanti in Beijing

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Mahatma Gandhi
Mahatma Gandhi

Beijing, Oct 02: China on Monday celebrated the 148th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, with the India Embassy in Beijing releasing commemorative postage stamps on the Ramayana.

Many Chinese nationals offered flowers to a statue of Gandhi at Beijing’s Chaoyang Park, while school children recited his famous quotes in Mandarin on a nippy overcast day.

“Gandhiji looked forward to a day when a free India and a free China could cooperate in friendship and brotherhood for their own good and for the benefit of Asia and the World,” Wilson Babu, Charge D’Affaires at the Indian embassy, said.

“Leaders of our two countries have been striving to build strong India-China relations based on Gandhiji’s ideals of world peace and respect for all human beings.”

In Shanghai, the Indian Consulate organised a series of events including a memorial lecture, screening of a documentary film and a painting completion for children of the Indian community.

Mahatma Gandhi has become increasingly popular in China, with many Chinese researchers studying his ideology of non-violence.

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was born on October 2, 1869, in Porbandar in Gujarat to Putlibai and Karamchand Gandhi. (IANS)