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DFHour#28: 1st EVA performed by Chinese female taikonaut, Net Zero Space Initiative and more!

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 8-14 Nov 2021. This week saw the first EVA by a female Taikonaut, with Wang Yaping performing the EVA alongside Zhai Zhigong, and as such we give her a shoutout in our weekly highlight. Check out our weekly episode for more detailed analysis on the EVA and other pieces of news!
Highlight of the Week: Wang Yaping, Chinese space celebrity
Nicknamed “the most beautiful space teacher” (最美太空老师) and “the most beautiful taikonaut” (最美宇航员), Wang Yaping (王亚平) is undoubtedly one of the most popular taikonauts. Not only did she become the first woman to be stationed on the Chinese Space Station, she also made history by becoming the first woman ever to perform an Extra Vehicular Activity (EVA) on November 8.
Born in an “ordinary family” in rural Shandong in 1980, Wang Yaping was admitted to the Civil Aviation Flight University of China at the age of 17. She became particularly popular after having given a physics lesson aboard the Tiangong-1 module in 2013, where she stayed along with the two other members of the Shenzhou-10 crew - Nie Haisheng and Zhang Xiaoguang. As reported by the BBC at the time, “around 330 primary and secondary school students watched the lecture from a special classroom in Beijing.”
Meanwhile “60 million students and teachers around China were also expected to watch the lecture live.” The students most probably still remember the lesson, which may contribute both to the increasing popularity of outer space in China and to the formation of a Chinese space culture. Regarding the latter, an example is provided this week by the opening of China’s first space-themed restaurant opened in Beijing on November 11, offering “space food, and space-bred fruit & vegetable”. The November 11 opening was a pre-“launch” (we couldn’t resist the pun!), while the official opening will be on December 5.
Wang Yaping will soon give a second lesson from the CSS. Looking forward to it!
Wang Yaping as a member of the Shenzhou-10 crew in 2013, and of the Shenzhou-13 crew in 2021
Wang Yaping as a member of the Shenzhou-10 crew in 2013, and of the Shenzhou-13 crew in 2021
The Week in Launch
iSpace had a big week. The company–one of China’s leading commercial launch companies–signed an agreement with the Wenchang International Space City (文昌国际航天城) on 8 Nov, which includes the establishment of an iSpace subsidiary in Wenchang. The deal also calls for iSpace and Wenchang to work together to develop medium-large reusable rockets to be launched from the Wenchang Space Launch Site (文昌航天发射场), with potential for reusability by landing on a sea platform. Separately, this week iSpace also announced the conclusion of their investigation into the 3 August 2021 failure of their Hyperbola-1 rocket. After being the first Chinese commercial launch company to put a rocket into orbit when its Hyperbola-1 launched successfully in July 2019, the company failed in its 2nd and 3rd Hyperbola-1 attempts–both in 2021. The investigation was quite thorough, taking more than 100 days and involving investigations on more than 40 individual events during the launch, 10 verification tests, and 2 fairing separation tests. The ultimate cause of the failure was apparently a silicone rubber piece that got stuck, preventing the fairing from separating.
This week also saw the successful launch of yet another Yaogan trio last week (6 November), onboard a LM-2D. This represented the second Yaogan launch in 3 days, with a duo of Yaogan satellites having been launched on 3 November. The launch also represents the 22-24th Yaogan satellites launched this year, an incredible number considering these are pretty big, complex satellites. The 24 have been launched as 7 sets of 3x, 1 two-satellite launch, and a single Yaogan satellite launched on 30 April. 
On another note, Galactic Energy celebrated the 1-year anniversary of the successful 1st launch of the Ceres-1 rocket, while also providing details on the upcoming 2nd and 3rd launches of the Ceres-1. The newer variants have substituted carbon fiber for various metal components, while also achieving further optimization of the performance of the rocket’s 2nd and 3rd stages. According to the WeChat post, the second Ceres-1 rocket has now been transported to the Jiuquan Launch Center, and will likely launch before the end of the year (with a multi-satellite launch). In case of a success, Galactic Energy would become the first Chinese commercial rocket company to have completed 2 orbital launches, a remarkable feat given that they were founded in only 2018.
Lastly, there were successful tests performed this week. Xi’an-based propulsion company XAPT performed the first full-system hot fire test of its Xuanyuan-1 kerolox 20t thrust rocket engine. XAPT is strongly affiliated with the rocket company CAS Space, which holds directly and indirectly a majority of the shares of the engine company. CAS Space plans to build a series of liquid-fueled reusable rockets dubbed the Zhongke-3, 4, and 4A. CASIC subsidiary Expace also announced successful testing of the carbon fiber first-stage engine of the Kuaizhou-1B rocket.
XAPT Xuanyuan-1 kerolox engine
XAPT Xuanyuan-1 kerolox engine
The Week in China’s Space Program
Big news for China’s space program this week, from the CSS and from the Martian orbit. First, the Shenzhou 13 crew, composed of taikonauts Zhai Zhigang, Wang Yaping and Ye Guangfu, performed its first EVA on November 7 - with the two former leaving the capsule. This 3rd EVA being performed on the CSS has some historical significance. Indeed, Zhai Zhigang was the first Chinese to ever perform a spacewalk, back in 2008 as the commander of the Shenzhou-7 crew. As he stepped out of the cabin, he pronounced the exact same words as in 2008: “我已出舱,感觉良好“ (I’ve exited the station, I feel fine). Secondly, Wang Yaping was the first Chinese woman ever to perform a spacewalk. The main objective of this EVA, which lasted 6.5 hours, was to install the systems to enable two robotic arms of the CSS to work together - namely an adapter (转接件) and a suspension system (悬挂装置). While the first robotic arm is already installed, a second, shorter robotic arm will be sent with the Wentian experimental module, which will dock with the Tianhe-1 next year.
The crew will be on-board for another 5 months, representing a total of 6 months, which is the routine length also for astronauts on the ISS. Among their remaining tasks will be 1) to use the robotic arm to move TZ-2 from the front docking port of the multidocking node to one of the side docking ports, 2) controlling the robotic arm remotely, 3) 1-2 more EVAs, 4) space sciences experiments, 5) the apparently long awaited second live science classes taught by Wang Yaping from the space station.
Secondly, on November 8, China’s Tianwen-1 orbiter performed braking maneuver and entered the final remote sensing phase. China’s Tianwen-1 orbiter has been serving as a relay satellite for the Zhurong rover ever since the Zhurong lander and rover detached from the orbiter to perform a landing on Mars on May 15. Last week, the orbiter completed some orbital maneuvers, firing up its 4x120N during 260 seconds to change its orbit to a new one that would be much more favorable to space sciences.
Such an orbit is one that tends to minimise the difference between the apoapsis (point in an orbit where a spacecraft is the farthest to the planet) and the periapsis (point in an orbit where a spacecraft is the closest to the planet) - also called apoareion and periareion since the orbited planet is Mars (Ares in Greek). As a result, while the periapsis used to always be over the same area around Zhurong, to enable maximum resolution and best communication with the rover, it will now be drifting between the North and South poles with every orbit, thereby being able to image the entire Martian surface over a period of ~200 days (until ~06/2022) and enabling more scientific research to be performed. According to an interview of the deputy chief designer of the Tianwen-1 orbiter Zhu Xinbo (8th Academy), as Tianwen-1 enters the remote sensing orbit, it will (or probably already has) deployed the 4 antennas that compose its Mars Subsurface Radar instrument (次表层雷达), one of the 7 instruments of the orbiter. Check out our weekly episode for more technical details!
China's Tianwen-1 orbiter entered the final remote sensing phase
China's Tianwen-1 orbiter entered the final remote sensing phase
The Week in Satellite Manufacturing + operation
This week’s news confirm that China’s satellite manufacturing capabilities are growing. First, commercial satellite manufacturer Galaxy Space announced that their batch of 6 satellites, to be launched in H1 2022 on a CGWIC rideshare, are nearing completion, and will soon leave the factory. The 6 satellites were apparently manufactured at the company’s Shanghai production line, which is a smaller facility than their under-construction “superfactory” in Nantong, which aims at an eventual capacity of ~500 satellites per year.
Second, Shaanxi’s Tongchuan SAR/EO Industrial Base won more funding from the Shaanxi Provincial Government this week. The base, spearheaded in part by commercial satellite manufacturer Smart Satellite, is partly meant to support the “Silk Road Satellite” constellation of 12 SAR satellites, being built by Smart Satellite. Another proof that a “SAR Wars” is raging in China!
The Week in Policy & Events
The Paris Peace Forum took place this week in, well, Paris. The event covered a wide variety of issues (inequality, sustainability, etc.), but notably had a space component this year. This included a “Net Zero Space Initiative”, which broadly aims at sustainable use of space. The Initiative was signed by, among others, Planet Labs, Astroscale, Eutelsat, and none other than friend of the Dongfang Hour CGSTL, one of China’s leading commercial EO companies. You can watch the replay of the session dedicated to the Net Zero Initiative here!
Net Zero Space Initiative: Preserving Earth's orbital environment for all - Paris Peace Forum 2021
Net Zero Space Initiative: Preserving Earth's orbital environment for all - Paris Peace Forum 2021
Other News of the Week
We came across an interesting article from 泰伯网 about a science & technology development corridor along the G60 highway in the Yangtze River Delta (YRD). The article specifies that the corridor now has 9 cities signed up as part of the project, including Shanghai, Huzhou, Suzhou, Jinhua, Hefei, etc. Notably, several of these cities already have significant space industrial bases, such as the CAS SECM in Lingang District of Shanghai, or the launch industry cluster around Huzhou. The article also points out that in addition to China SatNet (the LEO megaconstellation operating company in China), the G60 S&T development corridor is one of the country’s most well-defined major space projects.
Lastly, applications opened for the 3rd batch of Chang’e-5 lunar samples, with 15 samples available for the successful applicants. As a reminder, the second batch saw a total of 17,936 mg of lunar samples distributed to 17 institutions, including Peking University and Tsinghua University.
This has been another episode of the Dongfang Hour China Space News(letter). If you’ve made it this far, we thank you for your attention, and look forward to seeing you next time! Until then, don’t forget to follow us on our websiteYouTubeTwitterInstagramLinkedIn, or your local podcast source.
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