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Fireballs in the Japanese sky: possibly debris from a Chinese rocket

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Fireballs in the Japanese sky: possibly debris from a Chinese rocket, Magnate Daily
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Steph Deschamps / May 12, 2023

Flaming streaks of light seen in the night sky of southern Japan may have been caused by debris from a Chinese rocket, Japanese authorities said Thursday.
 
A video showing what looked like fireballs circulated on social networks Wednesday night, with residents and Internet users speculating on the reasons for this atypical spectacle.
 
The National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ) branch in Ishigaki, in the Okinawa archipelago, reported observing streaks of light at 8:33 p.m. Wednesday, an official told AFP.
 
“From the information available, we believe that (these) objects are not fireballs from meteorites, but debris from a rocket,” said this NAOJ headquarters official who requested anonymity.
 
“The slow speed and the way the light moved, with threads of light moving in parallel, looks exactly like debris from a rocket entering the atmosphere,” he added.
 
“It is possible that it is debris from a rocket launched by China in November,” the official estimated.
 
“Information indicates that part of the rocket was expected to re-enter the atmosphere” at about the same time. The debris probably fell into the ocean and is not dangerous, he continued, citing predictions of the trajectory it would have taken.
 
It was beautiful, it looked like a cherry blossom tree crying,” wrote one Twitter user.

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China sends its first civilian astronaut into space

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China sends its first civilian astronaut into space, Magnate Daily
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Eva Deschamps / June 1, 2023

The three astronauts’ stay is scheduled to last six months, and marks a new stage in the progress of Beijing’s space program.
 
On Tuesday May 30, China sent three new astronauts to its Tiangong space station, including for the first time a civilian. This is a valuable experience for the Asian giant, which has reaffirmed its desire to send a Chinese astronaut to the Moon by 2030, a major objective of a space program that has been progressing steadily for several decades.
 
The trio on the Shenzhou-16 mission lifted off aboard a Long March 2F rocket at 9:31 a.m. local time from the Jiuquan launch center in the Gobi Desert, according to AFP reporters on site. The launch was a “total success” and the “astronauts are in good shape”, said Zou Lipeng, director of the launch center.
 
Mission commander, veteran engineer Jing Haipeng, on his fourth space flight, is accompanied by engineer Zhu Yangzhu and Gui Haichao, a professor and the first Chinese civilian in space. A specialist in space science and engineering, Haichao will be in charge of experiments on the station. He does not come from the armed forces, as has always been the case until now. Their stay in Tiangong (“Heavenly Palace” in Chinese) is scheduled to last six months.
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The big announcement tonight: North Korea confirms launch of military spy satellite in June

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The big announcement tonight: North Korea confirms launch of military spy satellite in June, Magnate Daily
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Sylvie Claire /  June 1, 2023

North Korea confirmed on Tuesday that it will launch a military spy satellite in June, in order to “confront dangerous US military actions”, according to the official KCNA agency.
The “military reconnaissance satellite number 1” will be “launched in June”, in order to “confront the dangerous military actions of the United States and its vassals”, according to Ri Pyong Chol, vice-chairman of the ruling party’s Central Military Commission, quoted by KCNA.
On Monday, Japan announced that it had been informed by North Korea of a forthcoming satellite launch, a project which the Japanese government believed to conceal a ballistic missile launch.
According to Tokyo, Pyongyang has told the Japanese coastguard that a rocket will be launched between May 31 and June 11, and is expected to land in an area near the Yellow Sea, the East China Sea and east of Luzon Island in the Philippines.
North Korea has already tested ballistic missiles in 2012 and 2016, which it described as satellite launches and which flew over the island department of Okinawa in southern Japan.
The development of a reconnaissance satellite was one of Pyongyang’s key defense projects unveiled last year by Kim Jong Un.
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China to send its first civilian into space on Tuesday

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China to send its first civilian into space on Tuesday, Magnate Daily
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Steph Deschamps / June 1, 2023

On Tuesday, China will send a civilian astronaut into space for the first time in its history on a manned mission to the Tiangong space station, the China Human Spaceflight Agency announced.

 

This astronaut, Gui Haichao, a “payload specialist”, is “a professor at the Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics”, Lin Xiqiang, spokesman for the space agency, told a press conference on Monday.

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Until now, all Chinese astronauts who have launched into space have been members of the People’s Liberation Army.

 

Mr. Gui will be “mainly responsible for in-orbit management of payloads” dedicated to space science experiments, the spokesman said.

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The civilian astronaut will orbit alongside Shenzhou-16 mission commander Jing Haipeng and astronaut Zhu Yangzhu.

 

The crew is due to take off from the Jiuquan launch base in northwest China at 09:31 local time, according to the space agency.

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Projects linked to China’s “space dream” are multiplying under the presidency of Xi Jinping.

 

The Asian giant has been investing billions of euros in its military-led space program for several decades, enabling it to make up most of the ground lost to the Americans and Russians.

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China sent its first astronaut into space in 2003, and its Tiangong (“Celestial Palace”) space station has been fully operational since late 2022. In 2019, a Chinese spacecraft landed on the far side of the Moon. Then, in 2021, China landed a small robot on the surface of Mars. China plans to send its first crew to the Moon by 2029.

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