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China to launch more than 50 rockets, spacecraft in 2022



(Last Updated On: February 12, 2022)

China’s aerospace sector is busy going ahead with the preparations for carrying out the nation’s ambitious space exploration scheme of sending over 50 spacecraft into space in 2022, with all work of research and development, production and debugging underway in an orderly manner.

The country plans to launch the Long March-8 Y2 rocket, a two-stage medium-lift rocket between late February and early March this year.

The scheduled mission at the Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Site in south China’s Hainan Province will be the first launch of China’s new configuration of the Long March-8 rocket without boosters.

According to the developer, the rocket will be carrying 22 commercial satellites in the coming mission, the largest number of satellites to be launched in one flight by China.

“Now the Long March-8 Y2 is undergoing sub-system testing. Judged from the progress of our sub-system testing and data interpretation, the current testing results are normal, and the entire rocket is in a controllable condition,” said Wu Yitian, deputy chief designer of the Long March-8 rocket.

China plans to make a record six launches in 2022 to finish building its space station, according to a blue paper released by the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), the main contractor of China’s space program, on Wednesday.

The launch vehicles scheduled to dock with the space station are standing by, including the Long March 2F Y15, designed to carry three crew members to the station in November this year.

“The Y15 rocket is undergoing testing for final assembly in the workshop, and it will be transported to the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Base for the launch mission after all the jobs are done,” said Jing Muchun, chief designer of the Long March 2F, the carrier rocket system of Tiangong-1, which was China’s first prototype space station.

This year marks the first time for Chinese astronauts to celebrate the Spring Festival in outer space, and the three crew members aboard Shenzhou-13 – Zhai Zhigang, Wang Yaping and Ye Guangfu, have decorated the space station core module with traditional Chinese paper-cuts, Spring Festival Couplets, or Chunlian in Chinese, and red lanterns.

In the Beijing Space Information Transmission Center, space workers checked the system status of the Tianlian relay satellites, a system of relay satellites distributed around the equator in geostationary orbits, to keep the operation of China’s space station under close watch of the staff on the Earth.

“Just because of the broad coverage, long transmission time and high transmission rate of the Tianlian relay satellites, the space station completed the space-to-earth calls, extravehicular activities, and space lectures under its support. In future, the Tianlian relay satellites will provide space-based measurement and control and data relay services for the launch, rendezvous and docking, and in-orbit construction and assembly of space station modules as well as for the various spacecrafts,” said Ma Chao, an engineer with the comprehensive planning department of the Beijing Space Information Transmission Center.

Science & Technology

North Korea says it will launch its first military spy satellite in June



(Last Updated On: May 30, 2023)

North Korea will launch its first military reconnaissance satellite in June for monitoring U.S. military activities, state media KCNA reported on Tuesday.

In a statement carried by the KCNA news agency, Ri Pyong Chol, vice-chairman of the Central Military Commission of the ruling Workers’ Party, denounced joint military exercises by the United States and South Korea as openly showing their “reckless ambition for aggression.”

U.S. and South Korean forces have carried out various training exercises in recent months, including what they said were the biggest joint live-fire exercises last week, after many drills were scaled back amid COVID-19 restrictions and hopes for diplomatic efforts with North Korea, Reuters reported.

North Korea’s Ri said the drills required Pyongyang to have the “means capable of gathering information about the military acts of the enemy in real time.”

“We will comprehensively consider the present and future threats and put into more thoroughgoing practice the activities for strengthening all-inclusive and practical war deterrents,” Ri said in the statement.

Nuclear-armed North Korea has said it has completed development of its first military spy satellite, and leader Kim Jong Un has approved final preparations for the launch, read the report.

The statement did not specify the exact launch date, but North Korea has notified Japan of the planned launch between May 31 and June 11, prompting Tokyo to put its ballistic missile defences on alert.

Japan has said it would shoot down any projectile that threatens its territory, Reuters reported.

“(North Korea’s) satellite launches incorporate technology that is almost identical and compatible with those used for ballistic missiles, and regardless of the designation used by North Korea, we believe that the one planned for this time also uses ballistic missile technology,” Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said on Tuesday.

A U.S. State Department spokesperson said on Monday any North Korean launch that uses ballistic missile technology, including those used to put a satellite in orbit, would violate multiple United Nations resolutions.

The launch would be the North’s latest in a series of missile launches and weapons tests, including one of a new, solid-fuel intercontinental ballistic missile last month, read the report.

Analysts say the satellite will improve North Korea’s surveillance capability, enabling it to strike targets more accurately in the event of war.

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Venice’s waters turn fluorescent green near Rialto Bridge



(Last Updated On: May 29, 2023)

The waters in Venice’s main canal turned fluorescent green on Sunday in the area near the Rialto bridge and authorities are seeking to trace the cause, Italy’s fire department said.

The regional environmental protection agency has received samples of the altered waters and is working to identify the substance that changed their color, the department said in a tweet, Reuters reported.

The Venice prefect has called an emergency meeting of police forces to understand what happened and study possible countermeasures, the Ansa news agency reported.

The incident echoes recent episodes in Italy where environmental groups have been coloring monuments, including using vegetable charcoal to turn the waters of Rome’s Trevi fountain black in a protest against fossil fuels.

However, unlike previous cases, no activist group has come forward to claim responsibility for what happened in Venice.

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Gladis the killer whale and her gang of orcas, out for revenge



(Last Updated On: May 28, 2023)

A British sailor’s boat was targeted on Thursday in the latest attack near Gibraltar, by Gladis, a killer whale and her gang of orcas.

Gladis, believed to be traumatized, is thought to be teaching other orcas to target boats.

So far this month there have been 20 attacks on small vessels sailing in the Strait of Gibraltar. However the Atlantic Orca Working Group (GTOA) have reported dozens of attacks on ships along the Spanish and Portuguese coasts this year.

Experts believe Gladis may have suffered a “critical moment of agony”, such as colliding with a boat or becoming entrapped during illegal fishing, which altered her behavior in a “defensive” fashion, the Independent reported.

“That traumatized orca is the one that started this behavior of physical contact with boats,” Dr Lopez Fernandez told Live Science.

“We do not interpret that the orcas are teaching the young, although the behavior has spread to the young vertically, simply by imitation, and later horizontally among them, because they consider it something important in their lives,” he said.

The behavior has baffled scientists, with some initially suggesting it could be related to the harmful scarcity of food facing the mammals, or the disruptive resumption of business-as-usual nautical activities in the wake of the pandemic, while others have suggested it could be playful behavior.

Although known as killer whales, endangered orcas are part of the dolphin family. They can measure up to eight meters and weigh up to six tonnes as adults.

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