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China launches space station

wisebabo (638845) writes | more than 3 years ago

China 1

wisebabo (638845) writes "In another universe, it would be on its way to Europa by now. (2011 by Arthur C. Clarke).

Anyone know what orbital plane/altitude it's at? Can it be reached by NASA/Soyuz? Are the docking ports compatible? How about the air pressure/breathing mix?"

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Compatibility (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 3 years ago | (#37557462)

The Chinese use APAS [] . Russian-designed for the use in Apollo-Soyuz project, reused in Buran and the Mir module to which Buran was supposed to dock, reused again in Shuttle-Mir programme (in fact, the docking port carried by Shuttle was a refurbished unit originally meant for Buran), afterwards remaining as the method for Shuttle ISS dockings (and also planned to be used by at least two upcoming capsules)

It has few versions, but the Chinese apparently use the "current" one - so they should be compatible (choosing a fairly common port also suggests a fairly standard air mixture and pressure)

Not with Soyuz though - there were Soyuz spacecraft with APAS (the version used for tests before and in the Apollo-Soyuz mission obviously, and not only [] ), but for some reason the Russians use mostly their older probe and drogue docking system - perhaps they usually don't consider any possible mass and cost premiums of APAS to be worth it, perhaps a Soyuz with APAS looks just too friggin' creepy ;p (quickly looking for one photo I had in mind, I haven't found it - but the "APAS-89 on Soyuz-TM 16 (active unit)" [] one gives an idea ;p ). But if one of the Soyuz spacecraft on the production line right now would got APAS...

Generally, APAS seems to be poised to become the standard [] , without uncertainty about versions; who knows, maybe even Soyuz might start using it again (or at least their next spacecraft, PPTS)

As for reaching it... Soyuz can do it certainly, it has fairly comparable capabilities to Shenzhou; heck, Soyuz was the very first spacecraft which carried macroscopic life (turtles, most notably :p ) outside LEO (around the Moon...), and safely back, during Zond 5 mission (though that was without the orbital module, and on a Proton launcher, considerably more powerful than R-7; but yes, the Russians have few decades of experience operating a spacecraft essentially capable of beyond-LEO operation - do you have 150 million USD? Well, then get yourself a ride [] - those are the folks responsible for all orbital tourists, except the first Japanese one to Mir ~1990)
As for NASA... you did hear they don't have any manned spaceflight capability, right? (and the ISS was for a long time on a somewhat suboptimal orbit, so that the STS - a scifi cargo cult style spaceplane wasting most of launched mass on airframe - could reach it with usable payloads)

BTW, the actually existing universe is considerably more wild than works of fiction (which often shows limited imagination - to make the work of writers easier & consumption more palatable to audiences / not too dissimilar from earthly experiences, not too uncomfortable; it constrains their imagination - how many even realize that we can already send people when they are miniaturised and in deep hibernation, that the procedure is routine on Earth?)
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