Malaysia’s Budget 2017 Highlights

Here are the highlights of the 2017 Budget proposals announced on Friday by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak:

Lower corporate tax

* Govt has proposed to reduce the corporate tax for the year of assessment 2017 and 2018

* Reduce tax rate between 1 and 4 percentage points for companies with significant increase in taxable income for year of assessment 2017 and 2018.

* Reduce tax rate from 19% to 18% for SMEs with taxable income up to first RM500,000.

* Extend double taxation promotion on operating expenditure borne by anchor companies for the Vendor Development Programme until 31 December 2020.

Amendment to Bankruptcy Act 1967

* To enable bankrupt individuals to rejoin business activities by amending the Bankruptcy Act for social guarantors and those diagnosed with chronic diseases as well as the elderly.

Infrastructure, railway projects

* New 600km East Coast Rail Line connecting Klang Valley to East Coast, costing RM55b. Conects Port Klang, ITT Gombak, Bentong, Mentakab, Kuantan, Kemaman, Kerteh, Kuala Terengganu, Kota Bharu ends in Tumpat

* RM100m to restore East Coast railway line along Gua Musang – Tumpat that was destroyed during flood.

* To increase trip frequency of ETS for JB-Padang Besar route, RM1.1b allocation to buy more train sets

Boosting investments in small, midcap companies

* Govt-linked investment companies will set aside up to RM3b to fund managers to invest in potential small and midcap firms

* Capital Market Research Institute will set up Capital Market Development Fund with initial funding of RM75m

* Stamp duty on instruments of transfer of real estate worth more than RM1m to rise from 3% to 4% from Jan 1, 2018

Broadband incentives for rakyat

* Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) will provide RM1 billion to ensure the coverage and quality of broadband nationwide reaches up to 20 megabytes per second.* From January 2017, fixed line broadband service providers will offer services at a higher speed for the same price.

* A subscriber of 5 mbs per second package at RM149 will enjoy a package with twice the speed, which is 10 megabytes per second. Within the next two years, for this package, the speed will be doubled with the reduction in prices by 50%.

BR1M, subsidies

* BR1M’s assistance for 2017. Households with monthly income below RM3,000, raised to RM1,200

* For households earning RM3,000-RM4,000, the BR1M allocation increased from RM800 to RM900

* Government will provide nearly RM10b for fuel subsidies including cooking gas, toll charges, public transport

* For the purchase of reading materials, PCs, sports equipment be combined as lifestyle tax relief up to RM2,500 from 2017

Affordable housing for first time buyers

*Govt vacant lands at strategic locations will be given to GLCs and PR1MA to build 30,000 houses. The selling price RM150,000 to RM300,000.

*Govt to build 10,000 houses in urban areas for rental to eligible youths with permanent job, Rental up to 5yrs, below than market rate

* Rakyat-Centric projects will be continued through Private Finance Initiative with allocation of RM10b

Empowering taxi drivers, Uber

* Taxi drivers to get Govt grant of RM5,000 to buy new vehicles, individual taxi permits, RM60m allocation

* For ride-sharing drivers who don’t own car, down payment can be made using BR1M, rebate RM4,000 to buy Proton Iriz*

Private retirement schemes

* Effective 2017, the Government proposes to introduce a one-off increase of the existing RM500 incentive to RM1,000 to PRS contributors. Minimum accumulated investment of RM1,000 during the otwo years. For this, an allocation of RM165mil will be provided.

* RM400 million will be allocated, among others for clean air and ecotourism initiatives

Source: The Star


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China space economy developing rapidly, the most accurate atomic clock in the world

Snail-like progress By Cai Meng

New company set up to develop space economy

The commercialization of rocket launches will boost the industry by bringing space tourism income and attracting private investment, experts said.

ChinaRocket Co. Ltd, a subsidiary of China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology, the country’s largest developer of ballistic missiles and carrier rockets, was established on Wednesday, marking the commercialization of China’s space industry, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

“Chinese commercial space enterprises are lagging behind the global market due to lack of complete production chain in the commercial space industry and experience in commercial space activities like space tourism,” Li Hong, president of the academy, said at a press conference on Wednesday.

“Commercializing rocket launches will help develop the industry as many private companies will be interested in the sector,” Jiao Weixin, a professor at the School of Earth and Space Science of Peking University, told the Global Times on Thursday.

Jiao said the establishment of the company signals that State-controlled space industry is stepping into ordinary people’s daily life.

Han Qingping, president of ChinaRocket, said at the press conference that the company would focus on keeping the cost 30 percent lower than an average launch through the “standardization of the interface between satellite and rocket as well as advance preparation.”

According to Han, China will develop reusable sub-orbital vehicles in five to 10 years.

Han said the company will launch individual space travel services like “space taxi, free space ride and space shuttle bus” to promote the space economy.

According to Xinhua, ChinaRocket’s individual space travel package would cost about $200,000.

Huang Jun, a professor at the School of Aeronautic Science and Engineering at Beihang University, said that “many countries have been studying the reusability of carrier devices and aircraft, but it will take at least one to two decades before visitors can afford a space trip.”

The market value of commercial space in China would reach 30 billion yuan ($4.6 billion) annually by 2020, Xinhua reported, citing Hu Shengyun, a senior rocket engineer at China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp.

By Leng Shumei Global Times

China’s atomic clock: The most accurate clock in the world

China’s atomic clock: The most accurate clock in the world

China’s cold atomic clock is the most precise time-keeping device ever built. The clock only weighs a couple kilograms and could fit comfortably in the boot of a car. And because it is powered by atoms, it won’t have to be reset for another 30 million years.

China’s cold atomic clock is the most precise time-keeping device ever built. The clock only weighs a couple kilograms and could fit comfortably in the boot of a car. And because it is powered by atoms, it won’t have to be reset for another 30 million years.

Cold atomic clocks are the most accurate clocks in the world. Low-frequency lasers lower their internal temperatures to 273 degrees centigrade below zero, and slow down the movement of atoms inside. Slow-moving atoms decrease the likelihood of counting errors, and result in a more accurate counting of time.

“The frequency of the atom will not change. It is the same wherever it is. Unlike in mechanical clocks and electric clocks, atomic clocks aren’t drastically affected by their surrounding environment. We are going to operate the most accurate cold atomic clock in space. It is the first time ever, not only for our country, but also for the world,” Liu Liang, chief designer of Shanghai Institute of Optics and Fine Mechanics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, said.

Rubidium atoms count time inside China’s cold atomic clock. Atoms are usually affected by gravity, but the low level of gravity in space will weaken the earth’s gravitational pull and increase the accuracy of China’s cold atomic clock.

“Atoms usually fall because of gravity, making it difficult to keep track of time for a long time. But up in space, we don’t have that problem,” Liu said.

The launch of Tiangong-2 marks China’s transition from a follower in space research, to a pioneer. China’s cold atomic clock project is a good example of that transition.

“The initial plan was brought up in 2006. We have made great efforts over the past ten years. We have been through a lot… and we have been successful” Liu said.

It took years of scientific work to get China’s cold atomic clock into space. Researchers are now devising ways how to use the clock to benefit people down on earth.

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Rendez-vous By Wang Xiaoying

Shenzhou-11 docks with Tiangong-2 space lab

More than 40 hours after lift-off, the Shenzhou-11 spacecraft has docked with the Tiangong-2 space lab. Astronauts Jing Haipeng and Chen Dong have moved into what will be their home in space for the next month.

Shenzhou-11 spacecraft docks with Tiangong-2 space lab

The Shenzhou-11 manned spacecraft successfully completed its automated docking with the orbiting Tiangong-2 space lab at 3:31 am Wednesday Beijing Time, according to Beijing Aerospace Control Center (BACC).

Shenzhou-11, which was launched Monday morning from northwest China’s Gobi Desert, began to approach Tiangong-2 automatically at 1:11 am Wednesday and made contact with the space lab at 3:24 am.

The rendezvous took place in the orbit about 393 kilometers above Earth.

The two astronauts aboard Shenzhou-11, Jing Haipeng and Chen Dong, monitored and reported on the docking operation, relaying their findings to the control center.

According to the mission schedule, once they enter the space module, the astronauts will stay there for 30 days.

Shenzhou-11, China’s sixth manned spacecraft, will undertake the longest-ever space mission in the country. The two astronauts will spend a total of 33 days in space.

Sun Jun, deputy chief engineer of BACC, told Xinhua that the precision needed for the orbit prediction and automated docking calculation was much higher than previous docking missions.

China is the third country, after the United States and Russia, to complete successfully space rendezvous and docking procedures.

Tiangong-2 was sent into space on Sept. 15. It is hailed as China’s first space lab “in the strict sense” and a key step in building a permanent space station, which the country aims to accomplish by 2020.

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Philippine President Duterte in China for “Historic” Visit ; US Media Churlish!

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte arrives in Beijing on October 18, 2016, beginning his state visit to China. [Photo:]

US media churlish on Duterte’s China visit

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s ongoing trip to China has been seen as a gamble by the American media. Their astonished reaction clearly shows the selfish considerations of the US and its Western allies on the South China Sea issue. They take Philippine willingness to be a loyal part of the US alliance system as granted.

While providing security to the Philippines, Washington treats Manila as a pawn. The alliance requires the Philippines to serve US interests. To Washington, the Philippines’ value lies in providing military bases and legitimacy for the US containment of China in the South China Sea. As to the price Manila has to pay, it isn’t a problem at all for Washington.

We don’t foresee that the Philippines under the Duterte administration will break with the US. The majority of Chinese scholars on international strategy don’t think it will ever happen. Duterte appears more to be striving for increased diplomatic autonomy. Instead of serving Washington’s rebalance to the Asia-Pacific strategy, he is redesigning Philippine foreign policy based on Philippine interests.

Manila has shifted its China policy from one of confrontation during the Aquino era to being friendly and cooperative, as China’s support is essential for its economic development. Washington needs Manila to stick to its geopolitical role, but 100 million Filipinos want a better life more.

The Philippines needs support to improve infrastructure, for which the US offers no help. Washington only sends soldiers and military equipment, but the security threat it paints is exaggerating to Filipinos.

Duterte’s China visit burst the “China threat” bubble jointly blown by Aquino and the US. Arbitration and US aircraft carriers are useless in solving maritime disputes between Beijing and Manila. Friendly engagement and negotiations are more beneficial to the Philippines. Aquino was more like a gambler, betting that confronting China would win public support and that all ASEAN countries would follow the US. He lost the bet.

Development and cooperation are the major theme in Southeast Asia, but the US is pushing the region to the opposite pole for its selfish strategic gains. It is a costly strategy. Washington ties Manila and Hanoi to its chariot for its China-containment strategy in the South China Sea, but the latter could have more room to cooperate with China.

A BBC opinion piece expects Duterte to focus on the maritime disputes and re-evaluate the importance of the alliance with the US some day. Beijing does not expect the Philippines to swing fully to China, but we are also clear that the Sino-Philippine friendship is in line with the long-term interests of Duterte and the Philippines as a whole. That’s enough. The US and Western mainstream media would be foolish to expect a Manila that is hostile to Beijing for Washington’s South China Sea strategy. Such a scenario will probably not reappear during Duterte’s term of office.

China should reciprocate Duterte’s overture

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte embarked on his state visit to China today. This visit would have been unimaginable three months ago when the Philippines, as an initiator of the South China Sea arbitration and a key pivot of the US strategy of rebalance to the Asia-Pacific, was in sharp conflict with China over maritime disputes. Duterte has made a fresh start with Beijing-Manila ties and the nation’s regional strategies after coming into office, and thus is widely regarded as a “subverter.”

Duterte’s straightforward way of speaking and acting has made a deep impression on the world. He extended the olive branch to China soon after taking office, making China the first country outside ASEAN for an official visit and speaking publicly in favor of Beijing. Now it’s China’s turn to receive his olive branch.

Since assuming office, Duterte reprioritized national affairs, taking the public’s attention from the South China Sea back to domestic governance. Meanwhile, he insists on Manila’s right to an independent foreign policy and opposes Washington’s excessive control over the Philippines, which has riled the US. The announcement of a suspension of Washington-Manila joint patrols and military drills has particularly rocked this alliance.

The Philippines plays a special role in the South China Sea situation. Manila is Washington’s ally and the most ideal pawn for Washington and Tokyo to intervene in the South China Sea issue. Duterte’s predecessor Benigno Aquino III provoked strongly as he was backed by the US and Japan. Washington also counts on Manila to acquire legitimacy to launch South China Sea joint patrols. Once the Sino-Philippine relationship is returned to a friendly track, the US strategy of rebalancing will be undermined in the South China Sea.

Some are suspicious of Duterte’s sincerity toward China. However, Duterte’s policy has clear logic. China is his best partner in the anti-drug fight and for infrastructure construction. He is realistic and clear that the Philippines is only serving the US China-containment policy if it goes against China on the South China Sea issue.

Duterte’s understandings on the Sino-Philippine relationship reflect his left-wing political ideas. Whether he can resist pressure from domestic pro-US forces is key to the issue.

We call on China to grasp this major strategic opportunity brought by the Duterte administration. At the moment, China can make more efforts to facilitate the turnaround of the bilateral relationship. Beijing-Manila ties suffered an overall retreat during Aquino’s rule. Two-way trade dropped, Chinese tourist groups to Philippines stopped and fruit imports to China were affected. Changes are now happening.

The Philippine media has focused on the issue of fisheries around Huangyan Island. Duterte, under great domestic pressure, is strongly expected by Philippine media to bring a breakthrough on the issue.

Sovereignty is non-negotiable, but China can adopt a flexible policy on the Philippines’ fishing rights. Filipino fishermen fish on a shoestring and are unlikely to jeopardize the ecosystem of China’s waters.

A flexible fishing policy will bring the Sino-Philippine relationship to a new stage. As a major power, China should express its goodwill to Filipino fishermen and their president at this time. Washington’s strategy of rebalancing to the Asia-Pacific has increased China’s diplomatic and economic costs in Southeast Asia, and it is necessary for Beijing to reciprocate Manila for its clear stance of not willing to serve the US’ China strategy.

It is more effective to address the disputes in a friendly, instead of a confrontational way. China should make this clear to the world to win more respect in the world.  – Global Times

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World doubts the leadership of Uncle Sam: expert

The culture of guns

As the US has lost more international status and influence since the global financial crisis in 2008, the international community is raising doubts about its leadership and ability to contribute to the world, an expert said, analyzing that such a decline of influence can be attributed to some deep-seated reasons, including its self-willed overseas military operations.

Since the financial crisis, the US can neither provide effective solutions to a host of global challenges, nor sustain its control over other countries, Zhang Ruizhuang, Director of the Center of American Studies at Nankai University, wrote in an article published in the People’s Daily on Sunday.

In the commentary titled “The City upon a Hill is not there any more,” he gave an in-depth analysis on the reasons of such changes.

Zhang says that “A City upon a Hill,” often cited by American politicians as their political creed, verified the self-labelling of the arrogant Americans as “God’s Chosen Ones” to lead the world. After the Cold War, the preaching about the superiority of its values brought US much popularity and pulled the country to a commanding stage.

But it over-consumed its accumulated political capital during the last quarter of the 20th century, which resulted in a decline in its global influence, Zhang said, adding that the most destructive threat to its dropping status can be attributed to overseas military operations.

After the Soviet Union collapsed with the end of the Cold War, the US dominated the world and launched a series of capricious measures. With the excuse of protecting democracy, human rights and the world order, Uncle Sam trampled on the post-war international law based on the UN Charter and norms governing global relations by bringing the flames of war to many parts of the world.

Panama, Somalia, Haiti and Kosovo are all victims of such wars waged by the superpower. With a made-up excuse, it pulled Iraq into a war and this political farce finally brought the latter millions of civilian casualties, endless terrorist attacks and ceaseless disturbance.

What the US gained, after it paid a price of trillions of dollars for the war, was a hotbed for terrorist organizations which in turn threatened the security of itself and other Western countries. The war against Iraq ultimately turned out to be a foolish one that not only crumbled its diplomatic morality, but undermined its own strategic interests, Zhang concluded.

Despite the lessons, the US never gave up every opportunity to start “color revolutions.” Its attacks on Libya and Syria, once again, dragged these nations into raging wars. What’s worse, as a result of the wars, a number of regulation vacuums provided ISIS and other religious extremist organizations a bed in which to grow stronger.

The US, its Western allies, as well as the whole world, are now swallowing the sour fruits resulted from its self-willed deed, he added.

According to the scholar, apart from its frequent diplomatic mistakes, its economy, politics and society, in which the Americans once took pride, are all in a predicament, arising more doubts over the superiority of the US system.

The global financial crisis breaking out in 2008 exposed the defects of capitalism once again. It brought to light not only the failure of Keynesian policy to narrow the wealth gap and boost effective demand, but the greed and corruption of financial executives, the ineffectiveness of financial supervision, plus the government’s shielding of tycoons.

The US public felt shock, despair and anger towards such defects, and the ensuing “Occupy Wall Street” movement is one of their ways to express dissatisfaction. The protest wave later spilled to other part of the world, triggering worldwide query over the US system and its values.

Zhang also criticized US domestic politics, citing its notorious presidential election system as an example.

Manipulated by capital, the “winner takes all” election system in many states gives no chance to other newborn parties besides the two major parties. The American elections of the past two to three decades have been more like technical games.

The candidates now focus more on technical details for the sake of more votes rather than their political ideas and governance philosophies, and the whole process has fallen into personal attacks between the two candidates, he added.

Coupled with some other faults, the US and even the whole world began to question on the effectiveness of US democracy, as well as its leader selected in such a flawed way.

The article analyzed that one key reason for its flopping election lies in a lack of innovative governing ideas.

Barely stimulated by major crisis, US society tends to be mediocre and conservative about its ideas, the commentary further explained, adding that the prevailing philosophy of so-called “political correctness” also created an unfavorable environment for the candidates to come up with new ideas acceptable to the public.

Lack of foresighted candidates with outstanding capability is another reason for its unsuccessful election, Zhang wrote.

He explained that some capable politicians are not willing to embarrass themselves on the election stage at the cost of their privacy and that of their family as the butt of jokes.

“As a result, the world was presented with an election farce performed by the two unqualified and big-mouth candidates selected by the two parties,” the author concluded.

“It is obvious that the US is seeing a decline in terms of both prestige and influence, but such a drop is not so eye-catching as it has no strong competitors yet. It would be a complicated historic path,” the scholar said, calling for more attention to the course of the world pattern.

(People’s Daily)

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China successfully launched their 6th manned spaceflight with Shenzhou 11 to Tiangong-2 space lab

Graphics shows the launching process of Shenzhou-11 manned spacecraft.(Xinhua/Lu Zhe)

China launches manned spacecraft

China launched the Shenzhou XI manned spacecraft on Monday morning to transport two astronauts to the Tiangong II space laboratory.

The spacecraft was sent skyward at 7:30 am atop a Long March 2F rocket from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in Northwest China. It is carrying two male astronauts – 49-year-old Jing Haipeng and 37-year-old Chen Dong.

After the launch, the spacecraft will travel two days before docking with the Tiangong II, which was lifted from the Jiuquan center in mid-September. Then the astronauts will enter the space lab and stay there for 30 days, which will be the longest space stay by Chinese astronauts.

The core tasks of the Shenzhou XI mission are to test rendezvous and docking technologies for the country’s planned space station, to verify the life-support capability of the spacecraft-space lab combination as well as conduct scientific research and test engineering experiments, according to Wu Ping, deputy director of the China Manned Space Agency.

Prior to the Shenzhou XI, China had sent five spacecraft and 10 astronauts to space since 2003, when it lifted the Shenzhou V to carry the nation’s first astronaut Yang Liwei, who is now a senior space official, into space.

China is the third country in the world that has independently fulfilled manned spaceflight following the former Soviet Union and the United States.

China’s manned space program, a source of national pride, aims to place a permanent manned space station, which will consist of three parts — a core module attached to two labs, each weighing about 20 metric tons —into service around 2022, according to the manned space agency.

Lab shows early results

After being launched into orbit on Sept 15, the scientific applications of the Tiangong II space laboratory have been tested and have returned data. Here are some of the results:

The cold atomic space clock, the first of its kind in space, has carried out several tests with stable results, as expected. Scientists believe that such a clock can help to synchronize other atomic clocks more precisely, and that the technological development will create more possibilities for further explorations in space.

The multi-angle wide-spectral imager has captured a range of information on oceans and land as well as changes to clouds, aerosols and water.

The stereoscopic microwave altimeter has applied interference image technology to observe sea surfaces, parts of the Yellow River, the Taklimakan Desert, lakes on the Tibetan Plateau and the Lancang-Mekong River.

An agricultural experiment has sprouted seeds of Arabidopsis thaliana, a small flowering plant, and rice. Samples will be cultivated in space and carried back to the Earth by astronauts.

The space-Earth quantum key distribution and laser communications experiment has established stable connections between the space lab and ground stations.

China to enhance space capabilities with launch of Shenzhou-11

Monday’s successful launch of the Shenzhou-11 spacecraft is another step forward to put China among leading players in space technology, said Alexander Zheleznyakov, a Russian expert on history of space flights.

The craft with two astronauts aboard is planned to dock with China’s second experimental space lab Tiangong-2 launched in mid-September.

The move marked China’s latest effort in a couple of months toward a space power, after successes in the maiden flight of its new generation carrier rocket Long March-7 in June, and the launch of the world’s first quantum satellite “Micius” in August, among other developments.

China’s achievements and programs in space missions, in particular the lunar exploration program that is well planned and steadily advanced with achievable goals, are impressive and admirable, said Zheleznyakov, who is also member of the Tsiolkovsky Russian Academy of Cosmonautics.

He thought that qualities of the Tiangong-2 space lab indicate the way how China would build its planned space station, which is similar to that of the International Space Station, by gradually docking other space modules with the basic cabin.

Zheleznyakov believed that China’s experimental space lab will help provide solutions for spacecraft of different functions to approach and dock, and for a long-term operation of life support system, among others, in order to increase both the safety of astronauts and the service life span of the space station.

He expected to see a node module at China’s future space station with multiple docking ports, compared to the only one currently at the Tiangong-2.

The Russian expert added that manned space missions can help push the development of other industries, especially high-tech ones, as space projects involve new materials, advanced application programs and innovative technical solutions, including cutting-edge results in many areas.

Igor Lisov, a prominent Russian space expert and an editor at the industry magazine Cosmonautics News, also spoke highly of China’s steady progress in its manned spaceflight programs.

With the achievements made, China can now test technologies for cargo spacecraft docking, life support system operation and water recycling, among others, so as to ensure a long-term continuous operation of its space station in future with less dependance on replenishment from the Earth, he said.

Sergey Zhukov, a test cosmonaut and president of the Moscow Space Club,said it will be the right choice for China to build a space station on the basis of the cylinder structure of the Tiangong-2 space lab.

On the prospects of China’s space station, Zhukov believed that advances in technology would likely turn future space station into a terminal to enable manned space missions further beyond as well as stopovers of spacecraft such as mooncraft for maintenance and cargo relays.

Broader space cooperation between Russia and China will benefit each other, he added. Xinhua

The future of the space race

The history of the space race goes back as early as the 1960s. Back then, the former Soviet Union and the United States were competing for the power of technological superiority.

But now, China has made it a 3-way race, with all three countries developing their respective space programs. However, the three countries are all headed in different directions, as each space program has its own aims and priorities.

Let’s take a closer look at what the future of the space race could look like.

The space race of the 1960’s between the former Soviet Union and the United States was about power, bragging rights which nation was technologically superior.

Today, the space race is well, maybe a brisk walk. And the three major space faring nations the U.S., China and Russia appear at this point, headed in different directions. So where are the big three going

Since the Shuttle Atlantis landed back at the Kennedy Space Center five years ago, the U.S. has not had the capability to put humans in space. You heard me right.

The U.S. relies on the Russians, at a cost of 65 million dollars a seat, to carry its astronauts to and from the International Space Station. That could change by 2018 when private companies Boeing and Space X should have vehicles ready to ferry astronauts.

With these Station missions turned over to private companies, NASA, the U.S. space agency is now concentrating on building a massive new rocket and a spacecraft, Orion, to carry astronauts first to an asteroid rendezvous and then Mars in the 2030s. Some U.S. partners would like to see a moon mission as a stepping stone to Mars. But NASA rarely uses the moon and Mars in the same sentence.

China on the other hand seems destined and determined to send humans to the moon.

Methodically and in measured steps, China is building toward a permanent presence in space. The Tiangong 2 Space Lab with improved living quarters and life support will be home to two Chinese astronauts for at least thirty days conducting experiments in physics, biology and space medicine.

A mission to put a lander on the moon’s dark side is in the works for 2018. And a permanent space station could be in orbit by the early 2020s. All are precursors to landing its astronauts on the moon.

Russia would like to go to the moon too. But the country’s struggling economy has forced a tightening of the space budget. Plans for a powerful new rocket that would take cosmonauts to the moon is delayed. But the Russians are still planning a sample return mission in the 2020’s and eyeing a 2030 lunar landing. A morale boost could come this week.

A joint Russia-European Space Agency probe is scheduled to deploy a rover to the Martian surface. Russia’s last successful planetary probe was in 1984. One unanswered question is whether Russia and United States will go their separate ways if the International Space Station’s mission ends as planned in 2024 or continue to play in the same sandbox.

What happens in the future with the big three space powers will likely come down to politics as it usually does. Outside of cooperation in space, the U.S.-Russia relationship is strained and that may well spill over into space relations.

China was never a part of the space station family of nations. And, the U.S. congress forbids NASA from cooperating with China. So, China has been going it alone quite nicely. But nobody is getting along very well. It is possible that by the middle of the next decade, all three will be going their own ways and perhaps all in different directions.

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China to send two astronauts to Tiangong-2 space lab tomorrow

Chinese astronauts Jing Haipeng (L) and Chen Dong meet the media at a press conference at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China, October 16, 2016. The two male astronauts will carry out the Shenzhou-11 mission. The Shenzhou-11 manned spacecraft will be launched at 7:30 am October 17, 2016 Beijing Time (2330 GMT Oct. 16). Photo: Xinhua

Both astronauts introduced at press conference

China’s space program is set to launch its manned spacecraft the Shenzhou-11. Today authorities revealed the identities of the two astronauts that will be sent to space

China to launch Shenzhou-11 manned spacecraft on Oct 17

The Shenzhou-11 manned spacecraft will be launched at 7:30 a.m. Monday Beijing Time, China’s manned space program spokesperson said Sunday.

The spaceship will take two male astronauts Jing Haipeng and Chen Dong into space, said Wu Ping, deputy director of China’s manned space engineering office, at a press conference at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center.

The mission will be carried out with a Long March-2F carrier rocket, Wu said.

The spacecraft will dock with orbiting space lab Tiangong-2 within two days, and the astronauts will stay in the space lab for 30 days, she said.

After that the Shenzhou-11 spaceship will separate with Tiangong-2 and return to Earth within one day, Wu said.

The mission aims to transport personnel and materials between Earth and Tiangong-2, and examine rendezvous, docking and return technologies.

During the mission, the spacecraft will form a complex with Tiangong-2. The complex’s capabilities of supporting astronauts’ life, work and health, and astronauts’ abilities for carrying out flight missions will be tested, Wu said.

Other objectives include conducting aerospace medical experiments, space science experiments and in-orbit maintenance with human participation, along with activities to popularize scientific knowledge, she added.

Several technical alterations have been made to Shenzhou-11, though its main functions and technical parameters remain basically the same with Shenzhou-10, Wu said.

To meet the needs of this mission, the orbit control strategy and flight procedures have been adjusted to adapt Shenzhou-11 to the change of the rendezvous, docking and return orbit from 343 kilometers to 393 kilometers from Earth.

The layout of cargo loading has been adjusted to enhance transportation capabilities for the mission.

To further improve the spacecraft’s reliability and astronauts’ safety, wide-beam relay telecommunications devices have been equipped, which will significantly expand the scope of telemetry, tracking and control, as well as improve the space-ground communication support capabilities when the posture of the spacecraft is changing rapidly.

To verify future space technologies and meet the demand for prolonging the service life of rendezvous, telemetry and tracking devices in future space stations, such devices in Shenzhou-11 have been upgraded, according to Wu.

Certain technical alterations have also been made to the carrier rocket, she said. – Xinhua


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