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DFH #41: CASC's Blue Book 📘 🚀, first images of the Wentian Lab Module 👨🏻‍🚀 🛰️, President Xi Talks Space with Leaders

The Dongfang Hour
The Dongfang Hour
Your Weekly China Space Industry Summary, by Blaine Curcio and Jean Deville, and with editing by Orbital Gateway Consulting Analyst Aurélie Gillet.

What's up in Chinese Space this Week?
Welcome to the Dongfang Hour China Space Newsletter for 7-13 Feb 2022. This week was a somewhat slow week given that many of China’s more traditional space companies remained on Chinese New Year holiday for a 2nd week ending on 12 Feb, but nonetheless we did see some major news updates!
Highlight of the Week: CASC releases its annual Blue Book
This week saw the publication of CASC’s 2021 Blue Book of China Aerospace Science and Technology Activities. Published annually by one of CASC’s think-tanks, namely the 512th Institute of CAST, the Blue Book lays out the year’s plans and goals for China’s largest space company.
Among the noteworthy highlights from this year: CASC plans to launch more than 140 spacecraft in 50+ launches in 2022, with this compared to 48 launch missions completed by CASC in 2021. Among the 50+ launches will be the maiden launches of the Long March-6A and the Jielong-3 rockets, with the former being a considerably scaled up version of the Long March-6 (with four side boosters, and a height of 50m compared to 30m for the LM-6), and with the latter being a commercialized rocket being marketed by CALT subsidiary China Rocket. With a liftoff weight of 140 metric tons, the Jielong-3 rocket will become China’s largest and most powerful solid-propellant rocket when it enters service
In addition, the two other main focuses of China’s largest space conglomerate during 2022 will be the completion of the CSS with 6 planned missions (2x lab modules, 2x crewed, 2x cargo), and deepening R&D related to space exploration missions, notably the 4th Phase of the Lunar Exploration program and various asteroid missions. 
Overall, the Blue Book emphasizes on launch vehicles and on the CSS, yet contains little information about satellite/constellation projects - which is perhaps not surprising given that CASC is not the main contractor for most of China’s biggest constellation plans. Noteworthily, the launch sector seems to be catching up with the satellite manufacturing one: satellites have indeed been built faster than rockets, limiting somewhat the number of satellites being launched. If until now, most launches were dedicated to China’s national space programme, we can expect increased capabilities for commercial satellites in the near future.
CASC's 2021 Blue Book
CASC's 2021 Blue Book
The Week in Launch
Space Pioneer (also known as Tianbing Aerospace) is one odd and mysterious launch company in China, which raised another round of funding this week. The company has notably made some fascinating technical choices for its rockets, and this sets it apart with all other Chinese launch companies – especially regarding propulsion. 
Notably, the company’s Tianlong-2 and -3 liquid-fueled rockets are using the Tianhuo-11 engine, which burns kerosene and liquid oxygen inis a closed-cycle architecture with a turbopump running oxygen-rich. This is a highly efficient architecture that is very difficult to manage – only the Russians have done so before, with the legendary RD170-190. Moreover, the Tianhuo-11 is >80% 3D printed, including core components like the turbopump and the combustion chamber.
Finally, the most interesting thing about Space Pioneer is that they use a novel monopropellant called “HCP green monopropellant”, likely another name for NOFBX (or Nitrous oxide fuel blend). Monopropellants are fuels which don’t need a separate oxidizer to burn: they simply decompose when in presence of a catalyst element, producing a highly exothermic reaction in the process, and generating thrust. The most common monopropellant, hydrazine, comes with technical hurdles that the “HCP green monopropellant” can apparently solve: its Isp is much higher, it doesn’t release highly toxic gases, it is non-cryogenic, and stable at room temperature. For more technical details on Space Pioneer’s propulsion innovations, you can check out our weekly video.
Is Tianbing one of China's Quirkiest Launch Companies to Date?
Is Tianbing one of China's Quirkiest Launch Companies to Date?
Last week, OneSpace successfully completed a hot fire test run of a new unnamed solid rocket motor, to be used on its Linglong series of rockets. The company confirmed its commitment to continuing the construction of OneSpace Propulsion HQ in Xi’an, and to its holistic R&D approach, encompassing both the design and manufacture of launch vehicles and subsystems as well as launch services. OneSpace plans on growing the rocket engine business.
HKATG and CGWIC signed a new agreement for a 2nd batch of launches. The agreement plans for the launch of the Golden Bauhinia-3 and -4 satellites in the third quarter of 2022, possibly in July. The two satellites will be integrated into the Golden Bauhinia Constellation, and will subsequently be joined by 23 other communication satellites in the course of 2022.
Finally, an article was published by CALT last week provided some updates on the company’s LM-8 rocket. The LM-8 debuted in 2020, and is envisioned as being one of the workhorse rockets in China’s new generation launch family. In particular, the LM-8 is seen as very capable for rideshare launches, including an upcoming launch that is expected to put 22 satellites into orbit, which would be a record for a Chinese rocket. 
The article notes that the LM-8 for the upcoming launch is currently at the Wenchang Launch Center undergoing final testing, and that it will be launched around the end of February or beginning of March with the 22 satellites onboard.
The Week in China’s Space Program
Last week saw the publication of exciting updates on the Chinese Space Station. First, CMSA published the first images of the Wentian Lab Module of the Chinese Space Station, to be launched in the later part of Q2 2022. The 3 images published via PhilLeafSpace on Weibo show the lab module in all its glory, then the way that the lab module fits into the broader space station, and finally the robotic arm onboard Wentian, and the way that the arm will interact with the payload adapter.
Secondly, China performed a robotic arm “crawling” test, of which the CMSA released a video (interestingly, with music from Joe Hisaishi in the background). The Tianhe core module is provided with several PDGFs (Power Data Grapple Fixtures), which enable the robotic arm to “crawl”, enabling access to the entire space station without having to design a huge robotic arm. In the video embedded in the article, we can see one end of the arm finding and attaching to a second PDGF while the other end remains attached to a first one.
Besides, SAST published some additional information on the camera and selfie stick arm behind the “Mars selfie” of the lunar new year. The arm weighs 800 grams, is made of shape memory-composites, and can unfold when heated to certain temperatures. The Tianwen-1 orbiter is equipped with two cameras: the separation camera (which takes close-up shots) and the selfie stick camera which has a much wider field of view. Both cameras were designed by SAST’s Institute 803.
Image of the Wentian Lab Module of the CSS
Image of the Wentian Lab Module of the CSS
The Week in Satellite Applications
China’s leading commercial EO company CGSTL released a number of short videos taken by the company’s Jilin-01 EO constellation of Beijing and the surroundings during the ongoing 2022 Winter Olympics. The Jilin-01 constellation currently has more than 30 satellites in orbit, and CGSTL has plans to launch up to 300 satellites across 2 constellations by the end of 2025.
Short video of the Beijing Olympics surroundings taken by CGSTL's Jilin-01 EO constellation
Short video of the Beijing Olympics surroundings taken by CGSTL's Jilin-01 EO constellation
The Week in Policy & Events
Following on a series of agreements signed by Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, which included an agreement on satnav, President Xi met with multiple other Heads of State during the week to talk space (among other things). This included a 5 February meeting with Crown Prince Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan of Abu Dhabi, where President Xi noted that China was willing to cooperate in the aerospace sector. 
On the 6th, President Xi met with Prime Minister Imran Khan of Pakistan, and later with Argentinian President Alberto Fernandez. During both meetings, the leaders discussed cooperation between their countries, with both meetings including aero/space in their industries of emphasis for future cooperation.
President Xi Jinping meets with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan
President Xi Jinping meets with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan
Other News of the Week
Commercial satellite manufacturer/operator Qilu Satellite published a piece outlining the company’s history, as well as the rapid development of the space sector in Shandong, one of China’s most populous and developed provinces.  After the successful launch of the Qilu-1 and -4 remote sensing satellites in April 2021, the company plans to launch Qilu-2 and -3 in 2022.
Noteworthily, in the next 3-5 years, the Shanghai Industrial Technology Research Institute (SITRI) will complete the deployment of ~20 remote sensing satellites. 160 navigation enhancement satellites will be launched successively, covering the world by the end of 2023. Lastly, the first high-resolution agricultural satellite constellation is under construction, and the first batch of 8 satellites will be launched in 2022.
Qilu-1 and Qilu-4 remote sensing satellites
Qilu-1 and Qilu-4 remote sensing satellites
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