Russia wants to send cosmonauts to China space station

Roscosmos is taking a look at methods to send its cosmonauts to the Chinese space station, launching from websites in both Russia or French Guiana. 

During a press convention on the lately concluded Global Space Exploration Conference (GLEX) in St. Petersburg, Russia, on June 15, Dmitry Rogozin, director normal of Roscosmos, revealed that Russia is in discussions with China about crewed flights to the Chinese space station.

Rogozin, in response to a question from Aviation Week about doubtlessly launching cargo or crew to China’s new orbital outpost, mentioned, “We are planning to send our astronauts to the Chinese station.”

Related: The latest news about China’s space program

“The Chinese station … has a different inclination, not the same as ISS [the International Space Station] has … It is accessible from Vostochny Cosmodrome and also accessible from [the European] Kourou launching site [in French Guiana],” Rogozin mentioned. “We have explored the feasibility of upgrading the Soyuz launch pad at Kourou Cosmodrome to enable it to launch manned missions to the Chinese orbital station.”

China launched its first crew to the Tianhe space station core module on Wednesday utilizing a Long March 2F rocket from Jiuquan within the Gobi Desert. Shenzhou-12 mission astronauts Nie Haisheng, Liu Boming and Tang Hongbo will spend three months aboard Tianhe. 

The Chinese Space Station (CSS) is predicted to be accomplished in 2022 and be completely crewed for not less than 10 years. It may even develop into the one vacation spot in low Earth orbit for worldwide astronauts, since the way forward for the International Space Station (ISS) isn’t clear past 2024.

Russia is presently concerned within the ISS venture, however has mentioned it’s considering pulling out of the partnership after 2024, making Rogozin’s feedback extra notable.

However, getting cosmonauts to the Chinese space station can be difficult. Russia’s cosmodromes are situated at greater latitudes than can simply attain the CSS. The station’s orbital inclination takes it as excessive as 41.5 levels north and south of the equator, optimized to launches from Jiuquan. 

Space reporter Anatoly Zak reported that Russia even approached China to counsel it make the orbital inclination of the CSS greater, to enable Russian involvement within the venture. Currently, Soyuz launches to the CSS would wish to carry out a “dogleg” maneuver to get into the suitable inclination, which might require an excessive amount of additional gas, or to launch over and doubtlessly drop spent levels on Chinese territory. A brand new launch automobile is also the reply.

In response to a request for clarification on these points, Roscosmos press workplace mentioned it couldn’t present any additional feedback for now.

The different choice being thought-about is launching crewed Soyuz spacecraft from the European Space Agency (ESA) launch heart at Kourou, French Guiana, close to the equator. That path would require modifications to the launch complicated to facilitate human spaceflight missions. Soyuz rockets already launch from this web site, however solely carrying robotic satellites.

Asked about this chance through e-mail, an ESA media consultant responded {that a} research offered at GLEX by France’s National Centre for Space Studies (CNES) checked out potential futures for the launch web site.

ESA added the agency has been “conducting various system studies related to human spaceflight infrastructure … should a decision on European human spaceflight capabilities be taken during the next ESA Ministerial Council 2022 or a similar high-level meeting involving ESA member states, ESA stands ready to develop this.”

Other components that Russia would wish to think about embody the compatibility of the docking mechanisms that enable spacecraft to dock with space station modules.

China can, after all, launch astronauts from Jiuquan for worldwide companions, however for overseas astronauts to be a part of Shenzhou missions would seemingly require a protracted interval of joint coaching and growth of language expertise, a lot as NASA, ESA and different astronauts have discovered Russian to journey to the ISS aboard the Soyuz.

Lots of technical work and diplomatic efforts could be wanted earlier than we see cosmonauts launching for the CSS, however China and Russia are already cooperating extra intently in space.

China and Russia offered a primary model of a roadmap for a joint International Lunar Research Station at GLEX, which the pair say is open to all events. At the identical time the U.S. is in search of companions for its Artemis Accords and lunar exploration venture, with Brazil lately turning into the twelfth nation to signal on.

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