November 23, 2022
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Chinese astronauts enter Tiangong space station module after successful launch

By on June 5, 2022 0

China will be the only country with a space station, with Russia’s International Space Station (ISS) a collaborative project of several countries

China will be the only country with a space station, with Russia’s International Space Station (ISS) a collaborative project of several countries

China’s strategically important space station project entered its final phase on Sunday as three astronauts entered its orbiting module after it was successfully launched to complete construction this year to pursue the communist giant’s dream of emerge as a major space power.

A few hours after being launched into the designated orbit by the Shenzhou-14 spacecraft, which then docked with the space station’s orbital module called Tianhe and the cargo ships attached to it, the three astronauts, Chen Dong, Liu Yang and Cai Xuzhe, have successfully entered for a six-month stay, during which they will complete its remaining construction, the China Manned Space Agency (CMSA) said.

Earlier in the day, the spacecraft took off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China. Minutes later, the ground control official declared the mission a great success, saying the spacecraft had reached its designated orbit.

The trio will cooperate with the ground team to complete the assembly and construction of the Tiangong space station, transforming it from a single-module structure into a national space laboratory with three modules – the main module, Tianhe, and two laboratory modules – Wentian and Mengtian.

The launch was broadcast live.

Once ready, China will be the only country with a space station. The International Space Station (ISS) of Russia is a collaborative project of several countries.

The Chinese Space Station (CSS) is also expected to be a competitor to the Russian-built ISS. Observers say the CSS could become the only space station to remain in orbit once the aging ISS retires in the coming years.

The prominent feature of the Chinese space station being built is its two robotic arms, particularly the long one that the United States has previously expressed concerns about its ability to grab objects including satellites from the space.

The 10-meter-long arm has already been seen in action to successfully grab and move a 20-tonne Tianzhou-2 cargo ship in a test, according to the China Manned Space Engineering Office (CMSEO).

One of the outstanding tasks of the Shenzhou-14 crew is to test and operate the large and small mechanical arms.

The core module is mounted with a large mechanical arm and the Wentian lab module with a small one, Huang Weifen, chief designer of China’s manned space program astronaut system, told state-run Xinhua on Sunday.

The small arm is quite flexible and can perform operations with higher precision.

During the Shenzhou-14 mission, the crew will, for the first time, be helped by the small mechanical arm to exit the space station, Huang said.

The space station is designed to be a multipurpose space laboratory, capable of accommodating 25 experiment cabinets for scientific exploration, he said.

Experimentation cabinets can support experiments on life, ecology and biotechnology. Astronauts can conduct experiments on molecules, cells, tissues and organs at Wentian using various online detection methods, such as visible light, fluorescence or microscopic imaging, he said.

Wentian lab can also simulate variable gravity environments to support the comparative study of biological growth mechanism under different gravity conditions.

Mengtian’s latecomer laboratory module is equipped with experiment cabinets to study the effects of microgravity, covering fluid physics, materials science, combustion science, and basic physics.

Mengtian will have a space-based cold atomic clock system composed of a hydrogen clock, a rubidium clock and an optical clock, building an accurate time and frequency system in space which can be used for gravitational redshift research, measurement of fine structure constants, and other applications.

In February, China unveiled an ambitious plan for its burgeoning space industry, which included more than 50 space launches and six manned spaceflights to complete construction of its space station.

The China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) said China will conduct more than 50 space launches in 2022, sending more than 140 spacecraft into space.

While in orbit, the Shenzhou-14 crew will observe the two laboratory modules, the Tianzhou-5 cargo spacecraft and the dock of the Shenzhou-15 crewed spacecraft with the Tianhe main module.

They will rotate with the crew of Shenzhou-15 in orbit and return to the Dongfeng landing site in north China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region in December, Lin said.

China began construction of its three-module space station in April 2021 with the launch of Tianhe – the first and largest of the station’s three modules.