back to article Chinese 'nauts return to Earth after vigorous space coupling

China’s latest three taikonauts returned safely from the country’s longest manned mission, which was another practice run to the Heavenly Palace. Taikonauts Zhang Xiaoguang, Nie Haisheng and Wang Yaping (from left to right) Taikonauts Zhang Xiaoguang, Nie Haisheng and Wang Yaping (from left to right). Credit: Xinhua …


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  1. Eponymous Cowherd

    You came in that thing?

    You're braver than I thought. .....

    1. SW

      Re: You came in that thing?

      Wow, cramped or what - my car's bigger.

      ? Was the taikonautess sat in the middle - fnaar fnaar

      1. MrXavia

        Re Cramped

        That is JUST the decent module...... the whole spacecraft is larger...

        1. Mark York 3 Silver badge

          Re: Re Cramped

          If that's the decent module, I'd be wary of going up or down in it quite frankly, never mind the slightly dodgy one (See icon).

        2. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

          Re: Re Cramped

          "That is JUST the decent module..."

          The indecent module is just this way ....

      2. Daniel B.

        Re: You came in that thing?

        If you have ever seen an Apollo module, you'd notice they were also cramped. And astronauts had to stay a whole week inside those!

        The Orion is basically a bigger version of that, so I'm guessing it's still cramped, but only with more seating.

    2. Mr C

      Re: You came in that thing?

      She may not look like much, but she's got it where it counts, kid. I've made a lot of special modifications myself.

    3. hamcheeseandonion

      Re: You came in that thing?

      Did you notice the alarming resemblance to one of those recycling bins for glass, just repainted to look like a giant gimp mask?

      Or is that just me? coats on me back and i'm leaving

    4. Greg J Preece

      Re: You came in that thing?

      Basically the same as one of the USA's, but without all the paint?

  2. Ben Holmes
    Thumb Up

    Congratulations... the Chinese on this one. They are progressing in admirable leaps and bounds.

    Hopefully private industry's moves to commercialise space-based resources will lead to similar efforts in the West. I'm looking at you, SpaceX...

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wang Yaping


    1. Lloyd
      Thumb Up

      Re: Wang Yaping

      I'd pay good money to see a Wang Yapping.

      1. Eddy Ito

        Re: Wang Yaping

        Would a short video do?

  4. The Man Himself Silver badge


    Looking at the length of those scarves that they're wearing, Baker-era Dr Who featured heavily in their research into space travel

  5. SteveCo

    "The ‘nauts also conducted space medical experiments and technical tests"

    Is that code for 'they were the first humans to do it in space'?

    1. Code Monkey

      I thought the code for astro-rumpy was "the 200 mile high club".

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      thats what I thought the "vigorous space coupling" referred to

  6. NomNomNom


    "Chinese forays into the cosmos are aimed at extending its Tiangong-1, or Heavenly Palace, space-lab into a fully functional battle station"

  7. ukgnome

    It seems that China is rapidly becoming the masters of space. There mission control would make a bond villain drool. My money is them having the first moon-base and also the first Mars-base.

    1. The Man Himself Silver badge

      One thing that the Chines have is sheer weight of population. They can afford to throw people at something and if it fails, there are plenty more where they came from. It might sound harsh to say that they view the general populace as some almost inexaustable commodity, but if you look at their track record with things like mining and general industrial safety, I Think you'll get my point.

      That being the case, you could imagine how they could afford to have a few shots at the more ambitious ventures, like a trip to Mars, without worrying too much about the human cost.

      Having said that, such a mission would be so high profile, it would be hard for them to keep it under wraps. I can't see them launching 'x' suicide missions to Mars with no mention of launches, until they get it right, and then fanfare-ing their success only when they successfully land someone there

      1. Squander Two

        The worst thing about being cynical is being right.

      2. dssf

        Plenty More...

        Reminds me of Uncle Benny, in one of the Lethal Weapon movies: "SO WHAT!? There's a BILLION MORE where they came from." when chastised for killing ship-delivered forced-immigrants...

      3. mmeier

        Oh, brown Wernher did that for his space plans as well. He was not happy with the "quality of material" delivered from Auschwitz but later found a better source in the USA. And they where cheaper than house-broken monkeys!

    2. SDoradus

      We won't be human

      To get to Mars with current tech will take months if not years and no-one has come up with adequate shielding ideas yet. Which is not so say it can't be done, but lassoing an asteroid, carving out a habitat, and hitching engines of sufficiently high specific thrust are beyond even the Americans and Chinese at this point. Give it another century, once the population crash is done and dusted, and we'll see.

      But on present evidence I'm firmly convinced the only way human minds will reach the nearer planets, let alone the stars, is as digital avatars adapted to space, instead of trying to take a bubble of Earth with us.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: We won't be human

        "no-one has come up with adequate shielding ideas yet."

        Wrapping the habitation sections in water tanks solves a lot of the issues, it's just that water is pretty heavy even if it is the ideal shielding material.

        Longhaul flights like that aren't going to happen easily unless Orion-class nuclear launchers are used. Chemical launchers simply aren't up to the task.

        1. SDoradus

          Unfortunately not

          In recent studies it's been shown that while the water tanks you suggest work for most particles from the solar wind, the more energetic particles spawn secondary radiation which is still fatal on quite short timescales (weeks).

          Some cosmic rays are accelerated in pulsars, black hole accretion, or galactic magnetic fields, just like synchrotron radiation, to fantastic speeds approaching c. Over millions of years of slow but incessant acceleration, these can have energies around 20 GeV !

          The tanks help but you are still talking about several times the safe lifetime exposure during a Mars mission.

          No gas or fluid shield will protect against those short of an atmosphere kilometres thick.

  8. Tikimon

    China winning one-entry space race

    Homegrown outfits like SpaceX are awesome and making marvelous strides. I love 'em, wish them the very best. However, the Chinese are willing to do what nobody else can: burn huge piles of money. Private companies don't have billions to play with. NASA's budget gets routinely slashed, since a base on Mars won't buy socialist votes. The Russians are broke, no other space-capable nations are planning bases.

    There's simply no competing with the Chinese. They have the will, and they're willing to spend the cash. That's true of nobody else on this planet. While everyone else is getting cheap and sending robots, they will put people on the moon and Mars.

    1. MrXavia

      Re: China winning one-entry space race

      Its still just big dumb rockets with an expendable capsule on the end......

      The shuttle was a bit dumb rocket with a glider glued on the side...

      We need something a bit more clever really...

      Skylon looks to be the only viable solution out there. but as usual in the UK, not enough funding...

      1. hamcheeseandonion

        Re: China winning one-entry space race

        Something a bit more clever, eh?

        I know what!....yes, start cowering now those who've seen my posts before....cower properly, damn you!!

        Now..where was I?..Oh yes...we in this tiny wee set of islands look, quite rightly, at Skylon and praise its style and elegance of solution. That's ecause of the "tiny wee" bit...we don't have huge amounts of largely useless land that we can use/abuse for the Porpoises of......<drum roll>

        Project Orion

        10,000 ton plus, built using anything that's strong enough, as in effing big girders, because wieght is not an issue when you use...

        Nuclear Devices

        to punt you very quickly in to orbit, and very, very quickly to Mars/Luna/Tesco/wherever....there...done can uncower...oh...i've invented a new word...<well I could hardly have invented an old one could I>

        The obvious icon.....obviously

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: China winning one-entry space race

      The Chinese have a good system. The Yanks give them boodles of dollars for Walmart tat, and the Chinese use the dollars to advance rapidly in high technology areas.

      1. Red Bren

        Re: China winning one-entry space race

        "The Yanks give them boodles of dollars for Walmart tat"

        Where do the Yanks get these "boodles" of dollars from? They borrow it off the Chinese. And they don't just spend it on "tat". Almost everything you can buy in our western, post-industrial knowledge economy has "Made in China" on the label.

        Posted from my re-badged FoxConn Air (Designed in California, Built in China, Profits squirrelled away somewhere)

    3. mmeier

      Re: China winning one-entry space race

      It's more like they have the spies. That think is basically a Soyuz with some Apollo technology tacked on. Bet you the "space station" will look like the UdSSR tincan as well and basically use the same tech. It's not as if they have developed stuff that others don't have.

      The semi-smart nations are the Euros and Japan - NOT developing canned man space debris aka "manned space flight". Lease a US/Russin tincan for some propaganda flights and otherwise run a money making satellite launch business.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: China winning one-entry space race

        "It's more like they have the spies. "

        The technology you mention is all openly documented or readily purchasable. The chinese don't suffer from "Not Invented Here" and will more than happily use/adapt someone else's designs if they work for the task at hand.

        ISS doesn't look much different from an old USSR tin can, it's just got a few more cans tacked on than MIR did.

    4. Anonymaus Cowark

      Re: China winning one-entry space race

      China sends people instead of robots because it is cheaper for them.

    5. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: China winning one-entry space race

      You may be right, but the chinese are also very interested in robot tech. not everything in space can be done by a human, especially when it involves long duration stuff.

      I suspect they'll use people to work out how to do things and then design a robot to do it repeatedly.

  9. Stevie


    I would just like to say "Greetings to our new Chinese Space Overlords".

    But I can't because I don't speak Mandarin.

  10. All names Taken





    1. hamcheeseandonion

      Re: 呸!

      Try again...that actually comes with crispy noodles, so you can delete the 因为我不会说普通话

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Who will be able to claim the first ever space Blow Job? Who will film and sell the first extraterrestrial porn?

    1. Don Jefe


  12. Kevin 6

    The capsule looks like a giant Darlek body flipped on its side.

  13. pingpong-1

    well done china i bet that there space programmes are much cheaper cost wise than usa as they dont have extravagantly high price suppliers to satisfy.

    1. mmeier

      It helps that they also skipped the R&D costs and did what China does best - steal and copy other nations designs and work.

      1. SDoradus

        What's this stealing thing?

        The Chinese are climbing on the shoulders of others yes, but stealing? By that logic the Yanks stole from the Germans who stole from one particular Yank (Goddard) who, it is true, patented multi-stage and liquid-fueled rockets...

        ... but that was in 1914 and the patents had expired well before the Germans took advantage of them. And the Russians did steal from both but hey, they didn't recognise that form of intellectual property anyway (copyright is a different matter)

        ... and even they had their own unique contributions to engine tech, like the fuel pumps using waste gases, that was 15 per cent more thrust right there ...

        ... besides, Goddard would have got nowhere without the idea of the rocket in the first place which was ...


  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Shawyer moves to China?

    Sounds like the plot for a film. "Scientist discovers new propulsion system, loses funding and then gets an "Offer he can't refuse" to work for a secretive organisation he has never heard of."


  15. mhenriday

    Kudos to the Chinese space programme !

    The Chinese seem to be in it for the long haul and are building their competence and their capacity step by careful step and, from what we read, doing quite a good job of it.....



  16. PuckysInTheWild

    It's a sad truth that we all have to come back down to Earth after a vigorous coupling.

  17. Martin Budden Silver badge

    They took garden chairs?

    Hope those chairs are stackable, it's not a big capsule.

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