Chinese moon missions delayed by rocket failure: report

The Long March-5 Y2 rocket takes off from Wenchang Satellite Launch Center in Wenchang, Hainan Province, China on July 2, 2017. (File photo by Reuters)
Updated 28 September 2017
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Chinese moon missions delayed by rocket failure: report

BEIJING: Two Chinese lunar missions will be delayed by the failed launch of a powerful rocket in July, a state-run newspaper said, in a setback for the country’s ambitious space program.
Beijing sees its multi-billion-dollar forays into space as a symbol of China’s rise and the success of the Communist Party in turning around the fortunes of the once poverty-stricken nation.
Officials are still investigating why the Long March-5 Y2 rocket malfunctioned on July 2, the Science and Technology Daily reported this week, citing Tian Yulong, secretary-general of the China National Space Administration.
It was China’s second heavy-lift rocket and was designed to carry communication satellites into orbit. Authorities have not given any details about the incident.
The failure means the launches of lunar probes Chang’e-5, originally scheduled to collect samples from the moon in the second half of 2017, and Chang’e-4, due to land on the dark side of the moon in 2018, will both have to be revised.
New launch dates for the probes will be announced at the end of this year, Tian said.
A core module for the construction of China’s space station was also set to be blasted into space in 2018 but this will be delayed to 2019, Tian said Tuesday at the 68th International Astronautical Congress in Adelaide, Australia.
China, which hopes to one day send humans to the moon, joined the United States and Soviet Union as the only nations to land on the Earth’s natural satellite in 2013, when its lunar rover Yutu embarked on a 31-month mission beset by mechanical troubles.
The following year the country completed its first return mission to the moon, with an unmanned probe landing successfully back on Earth.
The Long March-5 Y2 had taken off in July with the Shijian-18 experimental communications satellite (7.5 tons), which it was supposed to put into orbit.
The satellite would have provided communications services over China’s territory — boosting Internet access and providing access to more television channels.
Its failure followed successful space missions, including the June launch of the Long March-4B, China’s first X-ray space telescope, to study black holes, pulsars and gamma-ray bursts.
In April, the country’s first cargo spacecraft completed its docking with an orbiting space lab — a key development toward China’s goal of having its own crewed space station by 2022.
China is also aiming to launch six rovers to Mars in 2020.


SpaceX’s first private passenger is Japanese fashion magnate Maezawa

This artist's illustration courtesy of SpaceX obtained September 17, 2018, shows the SpaceX BFR(Big Falcon Rocket)rocket passenger spacecraft. SpaceX is to reveal on September 17, 2018 the identity of the first person it plans to transport around the Moon in an ambitious project financed entirely by its eccentric CEO Elon Musk. (AFP)
Updated 18 September 2018
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SpaceX’s first private passenger is Japanese fashion magnate Maezawa

  • SpaceX in February transfixed a global audience with the successful test launch of its Falcon Heavy, the most powerful operational rocket in the world
  • SpaceX has already upended the space industry with its relatively low-cost reusable Falcon 9 rockets

HAWTHORNE, California: SpaceX, Elon Musk’s space transportation company, on Monday named its first private passenger as Japanese businessman Yusaku Maezawa, the founder and chief executive of online fashion retailer Zozo.
A former drummer in a punk band, billionaire Maezawa will will take a trip around the moon aboard its forthcoming Big Falcon Rocket spaceship, taking the race to commercialize space travel to new heights.
The first passenger to travel to the moon since the United States’ Apollo missions ended in 1972, Maezawa’s identity was revealed at an event Monday evening at the company’s headquarters and rocket factory in the Los Angeles suburb of Hawthorne.
In moves typical of his publicity-seeking style, Musk, who is also the billionaire chief executive of electric car maker Tesla Inc, had previously teased a few tantalizing details about the trip and the passenger’s identity, but left major questions unanswered.
On Thursday, Musk tweeted a picture of a Japanese flag. He followed that up on Sunday with tweets showing new artist renderings of the Big Falcon Rocket, or BFR, the super heavy-lift launch vehicle that Musk promises will shuttle the passenger to the moon and eventually fly humans and cargo to Mars, using the hashtag #OccupyMars.
While the BFR has not been built yet, Musk has said he wants the rocket to be ready for an unpiloted trip to Mars in 2022, with a crewed flight in 2024, though his ambitious production targets have been known to slip.
SpaceX plans a lunar orbit mission. It was not clear how much Maezawa paid for the trip.
Maezawa made his fortune by founding the wildly popular shopping site Zozotown. His company Zozo, officially called Start Today Co. Ltd, also offers a made-to-measure service using a polka dot bodysuit, the Zozosuit..
With SpaceX, Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin and entrepreneur Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic battling it out to launch private-sector spacecraft, the SpaceX passenger will join a growing list of celebrities and the ultra-rich who have secured seats on flights offered on the under-development vessels.
Those who have signed up to fly on Virgin Galactic sub-orbital missions include actor Leonardo DiCaprio and pop star Justin Bieber. A 90-minute flight costs $250,000.
Short sightseeing trips to space aboard Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket are likely to cost around $200,000 to $300,000, at least to start, Reuters reported in July.
SpaceX has already upended the space industry with its relatively low-cost reusable Falcon 9 rockets. The company has completed more than 50 successful Falcon launches and snagged billions of dollars’ worth of contracts, including deals with NASA and the US Department of Defense.
SpaceX in February transfixed a global audience with the successful test launch of its Falcon Heavy, the most powerful operational rocket in the world.
SpaceX previously announced plans to eventually use Falcon Heavy to launch paying space tourists on a trip around the moon, but Musk said in February he was inclined to reserve that mission for the BFR.