Chinese "Project 921" launch due ?

Phillip Clark (psclark@dircon.co.uk)
Sat, 20 Nov 1999 10:40:47 +0000 (GMT)

In the last couple of days I learned that China now has its four Yuan Wang
space tracking/control ships deployed around the world, and I am taking
this as an indication that the first automatic test flight of their
Project 921 manned spacecraft is due anytime.

Without knowing a launch time it is not possible to make any predictions
for seeing the satellite or its attendant rocket body in orbit.   The
spacecraft will be at least Soyuz-sized (maybe slightly larger), but
because it will have two pairs of solar panels compared with one pair on
Soyuz it might appear brigher than a Soyuz: or have flare characteristics
which are different.   The second (orbital) stage of the CZ-2F launch
vehicle will be a cylinder, 3.35 metres diameter and ~15 metres long.

Since this flight will be something totally new, there is no information
for the orbit, but I have suggested in a recent Jane's Intelligence Review
article that an inclination of ~48 deg might be used.

Of course, lighting conditions might make it impossible to see the
spacecraft or rocket stage before they come down, but if timely launch
data come outthen there might be a chance of seeing something.

Phillip Clark

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Phillip S Clark                                     22 Winterbourne Close
Molniya Space Consultancy                           Hastings
Compiler/Publisher, Worldwide Satellite Launches    E Sussex  TN34 1XG
                                                    U.K.

Specialist in "space archeology" - the older and more obscure the more 
interesting it is !
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