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CSP-2011-04-CHINA MANNED SPACE STATION
CSP-2011-09-TIANGONG 1 LAUNCH
April 2011: Authorities in charge of the China Manned Space Program unveiled plans to build a 60-ton space station, made up of three capsules, and develop a cargo spaceship to transport supplies.
The China Manned Space Engineering Office said at a news conference that it also wants the public to get involved by suggesting names for the space station, due to be completed around 2020.
According to documents provided by the office, the space station, weighing about 60 tons, is composed of a core module and two others where experiments will be conducted.
A cargo spaceship to transport supplies will also be developed.
The 18.1-meter-long core module, with a maximum diameter of 4.2 meters and a launch weight of 20 to 22 tons, will be launched first.
The two experiment modules will then blast off to dock with the core module. Each laboratory module is 14.4 meters long, with the same maximum diameter and launch weight of the core module.
“The 60-ton space station is rather small compared to the International Space Station (419 tons), and Russia’s Mir Space Station (137 tons) which served between 1996 and 2001,” said Pang Zhihao, a researcher and Deputy Editor-In-Chief of the monthly magazine, "Space International."
“But it is the world’s third multi-module space station, which usually demands much more complicated technology than a single-module space lab,” he said.
The office also said that China will develop a cargo spaceship, with a maximum diameter of 3.35 meters and a launch weight less than 13 tons, to transport supplies and lab facilities to the space station.
Pang said it is the first time that the office confirmed plans to build a cargo spaceship, which is vital for long-term space missions.
The public is being asked to submit suggestions for names and symbols to adorn the space station.
SEE ATTACHED - - "CSP-2011-04-CHINA MANNED SPACE STATION."
September 2011: The Tiangong 1, or “Heavenly Palace,” will blast off from the Gobi Desert Jiuquan launch site in a remote part of the northwestern province of Gansu between September 27 and September 30, just ahead of the October 1 national day holiday.
The eight-tonne unmanned module, and the rocket that will carry it skyward, have been moved onto the launch pad, the report said, citing a spokesman for the country’s space program.
While the Tiangong initiative is much smaller and more modest than the International Space Station jointly operated by Russia, the USA and other countries, it is the latest sign of China’s growing space technology ability.
After Tiangong 1 goes into orbit, China will use it to practice docking and other skills needed to operate a long-term space lab.
China launched its second moon orbiter last year after it became only the third country to send its astronauts walking in space outside their orbiting craft in 2008.
China plans an unmanned moon landing and deployment of a moon rover in 2012, and the retrieval of lunar soil and stone samples around 2017. Scientists have talked about the possibility of sending a man to the moon after 2020.
China’s first space lab module, Tiangong-1 blasted off at 9:16 pm Beijing Time (1316 GMT) from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in Northwest China’s Gansu province.
Commander-in-chief of China’s manned space program, Chang Wanquan announced that the launch of Tiangong-1 space lab module was successful.
The unmanned module, carried by Long March II-F T1 rocket, will test space docking with a spacecraft later, paving the way for China to become the third country in the world to operate a permanent space station around 2020.
Chinese President, Hu Jintao and other top leaders watched the launch from the Beijing Aerospace Flight Control Center, witnessing the latest endeavor of China’s manned space program since 1992.
The Tiangong-1 will orbit the Earth for about one month to await the Shenzhou-8 unmanned spacecraft. Once the two vehicles successfully rendezvous, they will conduct the first space docking at a height of 340 kilometers above the Earth's surface.
After two docking tests, Tiangong-1 will await Shenzhou-9 and Shenzhou-10 in the next two years, according to a plan of China’s manned space program.
The 8.5-tonne Tiangong-1, with a length of 10.4 meters and maximum diameter of 3.35 meters, provides a room of 15 cubic meters for two to three astronauts to live and work.
Zhang Shancong, Deputy Chief Designer of the Tiangong-1, told Xinhua that the module carries special cameras which will take hyperspectral images of China’s vast farmlands to detect heavy metal pollution and pesticide residue as well as plant disease.
Moreover, scientists on the ground will also conduct experiments on photonic crystal, a new material expected to revolutionize information technology (IT), in the low-gravity environment inside the Tiangong-1 as these experiments would be extremely difficult to conduct on Earth’s surface.
SEE ATTACHED - - "CSP-TIANGONG 1 LAUNCH - 2011-09."
November 2011: Chang Wanquan, the Chief Commander of China Manned Space Engineering Project, and Commanding Officer of Tiangong 1/Shenzhou 8 Rendezvous and Docking Mission Headquarters, and Director of the PLA General Armaments Department, announced at 6:20 , Beijing time from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, that the launch of Shenzhou 8 was a great success. According to the orbit calculation, the Shenzhou 8 spaceship has entered at 6:07:53 its operating orbit with a perigee height of 200 km and apogee height of 329 km. The obliquity of the orbit is 42 degrees and the orbiting cycle is 5379 seconds.
SEE ATTACHED PHOTO - - "CSP-SHENZHOU 8 LAUNCH - 2011-11."
Chang Wanquan, the Chief Commander of China Manned Space Engineering Project, Commanding Officer of Tiangong 1/Shenzhou 8 Mission Headquarters, and director of the PLA General Armaments Department, announced from Beijing Flight Control Center, that Tiangong 1 target vehicle and Shenzhou 8 spaceship have performed smoothly the first rendezvous and docking. The first rendezvous and docking mission is a great success.
The following is a statement by Wu Ping, spokesperson for the China Manned Space Engineering Office:
As entrusted by the Commanding Headquarters of Tiangong1/Shenzhou 8 Rendezvous and Docking Mission, I would like to inform the status quo of our first space rendezvous and docking mission.
On November 3, 2011, after it orbited over 30 rounds, the Shenzhou 8 spacecraft has successfully rendezvoused with Tiangong1 target vehicle (which has orbited for 541 rounds) at the near-circular orbit at a height of 343 kilometers. The two vehicles physically connected to form a docking assembly. The assembly’s flight control relied on Tiangong 1, and Shenzhou 8 was on the status of berthing. By now, the assembly has been orbiting the earth for nearly 6 rounds, with its onboard instruments functioning normally, and all onboard tests are well underway.
The Shenzhou 8 spacecraft was launched by a Long March 2F/Y8 rocket from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center at 5:58:07 am on November 1, 2011. 583 seconds after the ignition, the spacecraft was separated from the launch vehicle and accurately sent into the designed orbit. After that, Shenzhou 8 has completed its orbital maneuvers at its 5th, 13th, 16th, 19th, 24th rounds of orbit flight respectively, and finally entered the identical orbit plane with Tiangong 1. At its 28th round of its orbit flight, Shenzhou 8 established a relative navigation with Tiangong1 with a distance of 117km. Then, at 23:08 on November 2, 2011, Shenzhou 8 turned to automatic navigation at the distance of 52km from Tiangong 1. Under the guidance of Rendezvous & Docking instruments, the Shenzhou 8 spacecraft arrived at a berthing distance of 5 kilometers away from the Tiangong1 after 55 minutes flight and 4 orbital maneuvers. In the next 85 minutes of flight, Shenzhou 8 berthed at the distances of 400 meters, 140 meters and 30 meters from Tiangong 1 respectively, and completed the position accuracy control and status confirmation of the rendezvous and docking instruments. Then two docking mechanisms started to get touched and completed the process of capturing, buffering, approaching and docking in the next 8 minutes. At 01：36 am on November 3, 2011, the two spacecrafts have been ultimately physically connected to form the assembly and accomplished the rendezvous and docking processes.
The successful completion of the two spacecrafts’s rendezvous and docking marks that the Tiangong1/Shenzhou 8 rendezvous and docking mission has achieved a milestone success and set a sound foundation for the continued missions. According to the plan, the assembly will fly 12 days. During the second rendezvous and docking test, the two spacecrafts will again form the assembly for two days flight before separation. Shenzhou 8 spaceship’s reentry to the earth is scheduled on the night of November 17, 2011.
SEE ATTACHED - - "CSP-SPACE RENDEZVOUS - 2011-11."