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China’s cargo ship Tianzhou-4 docks with its space station




China’s Tianzhou-4 cargo spacecraft successfully docked with the nation’s orbiting space station on Tuesday to deliver supplies to the station, which is scheduled to be completed this year.

Carried by the Long March-7 Y5 rocket, the Tianzhou-4 blasted off from the Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Center on the southern island province of Hainan at 1:56 a.m. (Beijing Time), according to the China Manned Space Agency.

Like previous cargo flights, the Tianzhou-4 carries three categories of supplies, including six-month living supplies for astronauts, spare parts for space station maintenance, and space research equipment.

Fast-docking technology

The Tianzhou-4 adopted the fast-docking technology, which took only 6.5 hours to dock with the space station.

Li Zhihui, deputy commander of the cargo spacecraft system of the No. 5 Research Institute under the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation has explained the process of the docking in a previous interview with China Media Group.

Li explained that after separating from the rocket, the cargo craft moves from the perigee orbit to that of the space station by means of long-range autonomous guidance and near-range autonomous control to achieve fast-docking.

“The long-range autonomous guidance is realized through an orbital change powered by jet engine, which takes Tianzhou cargo spacecraft from a 200-kilometer-high perigee orbit to a space station orbit at 393 kilometers. Then the cargo craft enters the phase of autonomous control, where it docks with the core module after passing through four anchoring points including 5 kilometers, 400 meters, 200 meters and 19 meters away from the space station. The whole process takes 6.5 hours,” he said.

Five more space flight missions will be carried out this year to complete the in-orbit construction of China’s space station.

The Shenzhou-14 spacecraft will take three astronauts to the space station in June, stationing them in the core module for six months. The Wentian lab module will dock with the Tianhe core module in July, and the Mengtian lab module will be docked with the core module in October to complete the in-orbit construction of a T-shaped space station.

Over 200 packages in more than 40 cabinets

The Tianzhou-4 cargo craft is a fully sealed cargo craft with a total weight of 13.5 tonnes. It carries 6.9 tonnes of cargo, making it the world’s most capable cargo craft in service, according to China Media Group.

The craft is 10.6 meters long and its width reaches 14.9 meters when solar panels are fully unfolded. It consists of two parts: a propelling module  2.8 meters in diameter and a cargo storage module  3.35 meters in diameter.

The spacecraft has over 200 packages in more than 40 cabinets for different units.

The craft has also brought seeds, including wheat, soybean and corn varieties, collected from universities for experiments in space.

According to Li, the research team made several adjustments on Tianzhou-4 to enable the astronauts to find the packages more easily, besides expanding storage by optimizing package designs.

Xu Xiaoping, deputy chief designer of Tianzhou-4 cargo craft, said that the planning will be more precise in future missions as the consumption of the propellant in this mission is used just as planned. “We can bring more packages next time” without carrying extra fuel, Xu said.

Tianzhou-4 is expected to remain with the space station till the completion of Shenzhou-14 mission.

Source: CGTN 

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European Space Agency launches Jupiter moons explorer





PARIS, April 14 (Xinhua) — The European Space Agency (ESA) launched on Friday an Ariane 5 rocket carrying its Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer (Juice) from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana.

According to the ESA, the successful launch marks the beginning of an ambitious voyage to uncover the secrets of the ocean worlds on Jupiter’s three largest moons: Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto, which hold quantities of water under their surfaces in volumes far greater than in Earth’s oceans.

“These planet-sized moons offer us tantalizing hints that conditions for life could exist other than here on our ‘pale blue dot’,” the ESA said in its press release.

Over the next two-and-half weeks, Juice will deploy its various antennas and instrument booms, including a 16-meter-long radar antenna, a 10.6-meter-long magnetometer boom, and various other instruments that will study the environment of Jupiter and the subsurface of the icy moons, the agency said.

Juice will also monitor Jupiter’s complex magnetic, radiation, and plasma environment in depth and its interplay with the moons, thus studying the Jupiter system as an archetype for gas giant systems across the Universe.

Juice has been designed for an eight-year cruise with flybys of Earth and Venus to slingshot it to Jupiter. It will make 35 flybys of the three large moons while orbiting Jupiter, before changing orbits to Ganymede, said the agency.

Source(s): Xinhua

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U.S. FDA rejects Elon Musk’s Neuralink to test brain chips in humans





Elon Musk once said his brain implant company, Neuralink, will make the paralyzed walk, the blind see and eventually turn people into cyborgs, however, the firm is still struggling to get clinical-trial approval to achieve such a goal.

On at least four occasions since 2019, Musk has predicted that his medical device company, Neuralink, would soon start human trials of a revolutionary brain implant to treat intractable conditions such as paralysis and blindness.

Yet the company, founded in 2016, didn’t seek permission from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) until early 2022, and the agency rejected the application, Reuters reported citing seven current and former employees.

In explaining the decision to Neuralink, the agency outlined dozens of issues the company must address before human testing, a critical milestone on the path to final product approval, the staffers said.


Screenshot of a YouTube video posted by Neuralink in 2022 touting what Neuralink calls humane animal care.

Safety risks

The agency’s major safety concerns involved the device’s lithium battery; the potential for the implant’s tiny wires to migrate to other areas of the brain; and questions over whether, and how the device can be removed without damaging brain tissue, the employees said.

A year after the rejection, Neuralink is still working through the agency’s concerns. Three staffers said they were skeptical the company could quickly resolve the issues, despite Musk’s latest prediction at a November 30 presentation that the company would secure FDA human-trial approval this spring.

Such FDA rejections do not mean a company will ultimately fail to gain the agency’s human-testing approval. But the agency’s pushback signals substantial concerns, according to more than a dozen experts, in FDA device-approval processes.

Source(s): Xinhua

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Report: How the U.S. seeks to maintain its technological hegemony





The U.S., the world’s leading technology superpower, has been wielding monopoly power and taking suppression measures in high-tech fields to maintain its technological hegemony, said a report released on Monday.

Most recently, the U.S. has been lobbying its allies, including the Netherlands and Japan, to further restrict export of microchips and related equipment and technology to China.

ASML, the world’s top supplier of chip-making machines based in the Netherlands, has already been banned from selling its most advanced chip-making equipment to China since 2019, because of curbs imposed by the Dutch government under pressure from the U.S.

The company warned last week that “the drive for technological sovereignty” could lead to “long-term changes in global trade, competition and technology supply chains,” which could adversely affect its business and growth prospects.

This is only the latest move by the U.S. to further strangle China’s chip industry.

Last year, the Biden Administration proposed the so-called “Chip 4 Alliance,” which includes four of the world’s top producers of semiconductors: the U.S., Japan, Korea and China’s Taiwan region. It is widely seen as Washington’s effort to contain Beijing in the cutting-edge sector.

How the U.S. suppressed Japan’s chip industry 

Actually, China has not the only country targeted by the U.S. in the semiconductor sector.

In the 1980s, Japan, one of the U.S.’s closest allies, once produced about half of the world’s semiconductors. In the year 1990, six of the world’s top ten semiconductor manufacturers were Japanese companies.

In order to contain Japan’s semiconductor industry, the U.S. launched the “301” investigation, threatened to label Japan as conducting unfair trade, and imposed retaliatory tariffs, forcing Japan to sign the U.S.-Japan Semiconductor Agreement.

As a result, Japanese semiconductor enterprises were almost completely driven out of global competition, and their market share dropped from 50 percent to 10 percent.

In the same time, with the support of the U.S. government, a large number of U.S. semiconductor enterprises took the opportunity and grabbed larger market share.

U.S. put over 1,000 Chinese firms on sanction list

Now, facing competition from Chinese tech companies, the U.S. has been overstretching the concept of national security and mobilizing state power to suppress and sanction Chinese companies, like telecom giant Huawei – a leading company in 5G technologies.

Over the past years, the U.S. has restricted the entry of Huawei products into the American market, cut off its supply of chips and operating systems, and also coerced other countries to ban Huawei from undertaking local 5G network construction.

It even talked Canada into unwarrantedly detaining Huawei’s CFO Meng Wanzhou for nearly three years.

As a matter of fact, the U.S. has fabricated a slew of excuses to clamp down on China’s high-tech enterprises with global competitiveness, and has put more than 1,000 Chinese enterprises on its sanction lists.

U.S. eavesdropping

The U.S. has also been abusing its technological hegemony and carrying out widespread cyber-attacks and eavesdropping, the report pointed out.

The world’s No.1 superpower, with the most advanced technologies, has long been notorious as an “empire of hackers,” blamed for its rampant acts of cyber theft around the world.

And U.S. surveillance is indiscriminate. All can be targets of its surveillance, be they rivals or allies, even leaders of allied countries such as former German Chancellor Angela Merkel and several French Presidents.

Cyber surveillance and attacks launched by the U.S. such as “Prism,” “Dirtbox,” “Irritant Horn” and “Telescreen Operation” are all proof that the U.S. is closely monitoring its allies and partners.

Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, a website that has exposed U.S. surveillance programs, said that “do not expect a global surveillance superpower to act with honor or respect. There is only one rule: there are no rules.”

Source(s): CGTN

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