back to article Robotic arm on China's space station does a demo, swings out 20 degrees and back while holding cargo ship

The China Manned Space Engineering Office (CMSEO) says it has completed load-bearing tests on its space station's 10m robotic arm. The test involved lifting and moving the Tianzhou-2 cargo ship in a 47-minute operation that assessed the arm's ability to assemble sections of the station while in orbit, which is exactly what …

  1. Sixtiesplastictrektableware

    Evil Canadian Prcedent

    Yeah, China. You just watch your space-arm. We all know how those Canucks went crazy with theirs.

    All that politely disparaging graffiti painted on the ISS, and the happyface on the JWST.

    We got our eyes on you, China...


    Both of 'em.

  2. Chris G

    Lifting in space

    In micro gravity I would have thought the arm would be moving or manipulating mass of up to 20 tons rather than lifting 20 tons of weight.

    1. Santa from Exeter

      Re: Lifting in space

      That's tonnes old bean. China isn't as backward as to use tons.

    2. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: Lifting in space

      Yeah, yeah, you know what we mean: it's fixed.


  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And an amazing 20degrees of movement - meaning from just here to just there - hardly movement

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It is not trivial to build something that can lift a cargo ship, let alone make any degree of movement, under these conditions. I think most aerospace engineers might say that it is something that is decidedly NON TRIVIAL!

  4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Is the space station lifting the cargo ship or the cargo ship lifting the base station?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Doctor Syntax - We don't know

      In space no one can hear you lifting...

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    the long arm of China

    Presumably capable of grabbing our peace-loving satellites?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: the long arm of China

      More like the long arm of (the) LEO, and I'm not lion about that. Manely because I wouldn't want to mislead.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: the long arm of China

        @A/C but you are happy to misspell

  6. spireite Silver badge

    Surely in space everything is weightless, so the arm is only capable of moving 0 tons technically

    1. John Robson Silver badge

      Not weightless just all in freefall...

      About 90% of it's earth surface "normal" weight in fact.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @spireite - That load has a mass

      so it is correct to say they moved 20 tonnes. Also, at that altitude the load still has some weight because of the gravitational attraction from Earth, it's not quite weightless.

      See mass versus weight.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: @spireite - That load has a mass


        Where in the article did it say they moved/lifted 20 tonnes? Where did it say it lifted anything come to that?

        1. John Robson Silver badge

          Re: @spireite - That load has a mass

          "According to state-sponsored media China Global Television Network (CGTN), the robotic arm, which can lift objects with a mass of up to 20 tonnes, had swung back and forth by 20˚."

          Not sure how you decide whether you are lifting or lowering something when in orbit.

  7. brainwrong

    Where to?

    "which can lift objects weighing up to 20 tonnes"

    Did it lift something up? Which way was that? How much mass did it move?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @brainwrong - Re: Where to?

      Unfortunately, it is very common in everyday life to use weight to measure mass so the two are often (and incorrectly) interchanged.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    US reaction

    "US military leaders told Congress that the technology could be used to grapple satellites when equipped on spacecraft."

    Translation - give us funding to build a robotic arm for our (operational) X-37B Space Plane.

  9. Lars Silver badge

    Who invented the "lifting"

    Looking at the link "state-sponsored media China Global Television Network " it reads "China's space station: Robotic arm successfully transfers cargo ship in test"

    Who invented the "lifting".

    1. fxkeh

      Re: Who invented the "lifting"

      The CGTN article has a paragaph where it says the arm "can lift" up to 20 tonnes (which the reg article also repeats) - I guess the reg author then (mis?)used that same term when it came to the procedure that actually took place.

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