China is launching a rival to the International Space Station (ISS) – and it wants to share its new toy.
The China Manned Space Agency and the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) have announced a partnership that will let UN member states conduct experiments on and even send astronauts to the Chinese space station, due to start operating in the 2020s.
The UN and China say they are keen to get more nations involved in space activities. “This is an exciting opportunity to further build the space capacity of developing countries and increase understanding of the benefits space can bring to humankind,” said UNOOSA director Simonetta Di Pippo.
China is excluded from the ISS because of a US government ban on its participation. It’s not clear if the other ISS partners – Russia, Japan, Canada and the member countries of the European Space Agency – will have access to China’s station.
Later this year China will launch space lab Tiangong-2 to practise the skills needed to build the station.
NASA has made significant progress toward establishing a more reliable, and potentially solar-system-spanning communication system with the installation of a new breed of data network aboard the International Space Station (ISS). As its name suggests, the Delay/Disruption Tolerant Networking (DTN) service allows for the storage of partial pieces of information in the nodes along a communication path, which will allow for faster and more stable transmissions.
The system has been integrated with the ISS's Telescience Resource Kit and represents over 10 years of work from NASA and its partners as part of the agency's Advanced Exploration Systems (AES) program. AES seeks to develop technologies that could be instrumental in the future exploration of our solar system.
The more traditional internet protocol system previously used by astronauts aboard the station required each node of a network to be available at the same time in order for data to be transferred. For astronauts communicating from the ISS, these nodes are often satellites, which can be unavailable for any number of reasons, leading to significant disruptions in communications.
The DTN's ability to store and send partial bundles of information as and when a node becomes available has the potential to significantly reduce communication latency, allowing for a greater level of data availability and superior bandwidth utilization
One of the defining characteristics of the New Space era is partnerships. Whether it is between the private and public sector, different space agencies, or different institutions across the world, collaboration has become the cornerstone to success. Consider the recent agreement between the Netherlands Space Office (NSO) and the Chinese National Space Agency (CNSA) that was announced earlier this week.
In an agreement made possible by the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed in 2015 between the Netherlands and China, a Dutch-built radio antenna will travel to the Moon aboard the Chinese Chang’e 4 satellite, which is scheduled to launch in 2018. Once the lunar exploration mission reaches the Moon, it will deposit the radio antenna on the far side, where it will begin to provide scientists with fascinating new views of the Universe.
The radio antenna itself is also the result of collaboration, between scientists from Radboud University, the Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy (ASTRON) and the small satellite company Innovative Solutions in Space (ISIS). After years of research and development, these three organizations have produced an instrument which they hope will usher in a new era of radio astronomy.
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very little is known about this part of the electromagnetic spectrum. As a result, the Dutch radio antenna could be the first to provide information on the development of the earliest structures in the Universe. It is also the first instrument to be sent into space as part of a Chinese space mission.