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  China's unmanned Shenzhou 8 to Tiangong-1

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Author Topic:   China's unmanned Shenzhou 8 to Tiangong-1
Robert Pearlman
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Posts: 27328
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 10-31-2011 08:26 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Xinhua state news service
China to launch Shenzhou 8, ready for first docking

China will launch its unmanned spacecraft Shenzhou 8 early Tuesday (China Standard Time, CST) for the country's first space docking, a major step closer to the goal of building a permanent space station around 2020.

Shenzhou 8 will take off at 5:58 a.m. CST Tuesday, Nov. 1 [4:58 p.m. CDT / 2158 GMT Monday, Oct. 31], carried by a modified model of the Long March CZ-2F rocket at Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China, said Wu Ping, spokeswoman of China's manned space program.

The spacecraft is due to dock with Tiangong-1, or "Heavenly Palace," China's first space lab module within two days after the launch for the country's first docking. Tiangong-1 was sent into space on Sept. 29.

They will separate after flying together for 12 days but will carry out a second docking later, she added.


Credit: jz.chinamail.com.cn

The mission, if successful, will make China the third nation to master the technology after the United States and Russia, paving the way for the nation to place a space station into orbit around 2020.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 27328
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 10-31-2011 08:32 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Xinhua state news service
Long March CZ-2F ready to launch Shenzhou 8

Fuel was injected into the modified Long March CZ-2F rocket at 10 a.m. (China Standard Time, CST) on Monday, Oct. 31, said Wu Ping, spokeswoman of China's manned space program.

Technical conditions of all systems are normal, interfaces of different systems are coordinated, ground tests are adequate, contingency plans are ready and all facilities are sound, which meet requirements for a launch, she added.

The launch vehicle is the latest updated model of the Long March-2F rocket, she said. The rocket, 58.3 meters (191 feet) long, has a liftoff weight of 497 tonnes and a payload capacity of 8.13 tonnes.

The target vessel Tiangong-1 completed a 180-degree turn-around to prepare itself for the upcoming docking at 7:34 p.m. CST Sunday under the control of the Beijing Aerospace Flight Control Center, said Chen Hongmin, director of the command center for the Chinese space program on Sunday.

He said the spacecraft was lowered to the 343 km (213 mile) high rendezvous and docking orbit on Sunday after a series of maneuvers including orbit control and on-orbit testing during one-month orbits.

"Equipments and technical conditions of Tiangong-1 have met all the requirements for docking," Wu said.

To ensure the success of the mission, Chinese space engineers have made "considerable modifications" on Shenzhou 8 over the previous versions of China's unmanned spacecraft.


Credit: CMSE

Shenzhou 8, with a length of 9 meters (30 feet) and a maximum diameter of 2.8 meters (9 feet), has a liftoff weight of 8.082 tonnes.

"More than half of the 600 or so sets of equipment have been modified technically, while newly designed devices account for about 15 percent of the total," Wu said.

The modifications were mainly aimed at arming the spacecraft with automatic and manual rendezvous and docking capacities, and to enhance the vehicle's performance, safety and reliability, according to Wu.

"After the improvements, the spacecraft will be able to connect with the target spacecraft Tiangong-1 for 180 days," Wu said.

"We have full confidence in the successful launch of Shenzhou 8, as well as the rendezvous and docking mission," she said.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 27328
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 10-31-2011 08:36 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Xinhua state news service
Shenzhou 8 to test docking, German experiments

The main tasks for Shenzhou 8 are to test docking technology and functions of the modified space capsule and rocket, and to carry out scientific experiments.

The unmanned spacecraft is equipped with devices for recording real images and mechanical parameters during its flight, to test the space docking before a manned attempt.

Once China has mastered the techniques for space rendezvous and docking, it will be equipped with the basic technologies and capacity required for the building of a space station, said Zhou Jianping, chief designer of China's manned space program.

"It will make it possible for China to carry out space exploration of larger scale," he said.

For this mission, Chinese and German scientists will also conduct 17 space life science experiments on Shenzhou 8. Among the research programs, 10 will be controlled by China, six by Germany, and one by joint efforts, said Wu Ping, spokeswoman for China's manned space program.

"It is the first time for China's manned space program to carry out international cooperation in the field of space life science," Wu said.

"The experiments are of great significance in promoting the study and development of microgravity science and space life science," she said.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 27328
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 10-31-2011 06:08 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Xinhua state news service
China's unmanned Shenzhou 8 launches on first docking mission

China's unmanned Shenzhou 8 spacecraft lifted off at 5:58 a.m. China Standard Time on Tuesday, Nov. 1 [4:58 p.m. CDT / 2158 GMT Oct. 31] from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwestern desert area.

The spacecraft, carried by a modified Long March-2F carrier rocket, is expected to dock with Tiangong-1 space lab module that was sent into space on Sept. 29.

The rendezvous and docking maneuver will take place within two days of the launch of Shenzhou 8, and the practice will build up experience for further docking with Shenzhou 9 and 10 in 2012 and the building of a permanent manned space station around 2020.

Launch declared a success

The commander-in-chief of China's manned space program Chang Wanquan announced that the launch of Shenzhou 8 unmanned spacecraft was successful.

The spacecraft was successfully sent into the designated orbit.


Credit: Xinhua

The launch was attended by Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Dejiang. It was also witnessed from the launch site by senior officials from the European Space Agency and the German Aerospace Center.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 27328
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 11-02-2011 12:46 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Xinhua state news service
China accomplishes first space docking

Two Chinese spacecraft accomplished the country's first docking early Thursday, Nov. 3 (Beijing time) silently coupling in space more than 343 km (213 miles) above Earth's surface.

Nearly two days after it was launched, the unmanned Shenzhou 8 docked with space lab module Tiangong-1 at 1:35 a.m. (12:35 p.m. CDT on Nov. 2).

The success of the docking procedure makes China the third country in the world, after the U.S. and Russia, to master the technique, moving the country one step closer to establishing its own space station.

President Hu Jintao, who is in France for the G-20 summit, sent a congratulatory message on the success of the country's first-ever space docking.

Other leaders, including members of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, watched the mission at the Beijing Aerospace Flight Control Center.

China is now equipped with the basic technology and capacity required for the construction of a space station, said Zhou Jianping, chief designer of China's manned space program.

"This will make it possible for China to carry out space exploration on a larger scale," he said.

"The capability increases China's ability to act independently in space, as well as its ability to cooperate with others," said Gregory Kulacki, senior analyst and China project manager at the global security program of the Union of Concerned Scientists, a nonprofit scientific advocacy group based in the United States.

"China's pursuit of an original solution to space docking, that is based on their understanding of the experience of other nations, could lead to innovations or experiences other space-faring nations could find useful," Kulacki said.

The world's first space docking was achieved in 1966, when the manned U.S. spacecraft Gemini 8 docked with an unmanned Agena Target Vehicle.

Forty-five (45) years later, the maneuver remains a technological challenge. Many of mankind's 300-plus attempts have been met with difficulties or resulted in failure.

"To link up two vehicles traveling at 7.8 km per second in orbit, with a margin of error of no more than 20 centimeters, is like 'finding a needle in a haystack'," Zhou said.

The Shenzhou-8 and Tiangong-1 will separate after flying together for 12 days, after which a second docking procedure will be conducted.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 27328
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 11-14-2011 09:17 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Xinhua state news service
China completes second space docking test

China's Shenzhou 8 unmanned spacecraft re-docked successfully with the Tiangong-1 space lab module Monday evening, according to the mission's control center.

About half an hour before docking, the Shenzhou 8 had successfully disengaged from Tiangong-1 after a 12-day flight together.

The Shenzhou 8, launched on Nov. 1, rendezvoused and docked with the Tiangong-1 module on Nov. 3 in an orbit 343 kilometers (213 miles) above Earth, marking China's first space docking.

Tiangong-1 has been in orbit since its launch on Sept. 29.

The docking mechanism, composed of up to 10,000 parts, and the more than 600 instruments aboard Shenzhou 8 were all developed and made by China, said Wu Ping, spokeswoman for the manned space program, at an earlier press conference.

The Shenzhou 8 is set to return to Earth on the evening of Nov. 17, Wu said.

China's spacecraft will conduct two more space docking missions in 2012, and the country plans to establish its own space lab around 2016 and a manned space station around 2020, according to Wu.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 27328
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 11-17-2011 08:12 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Xinhua state news service
Shenzhou 8 lands in Inner Mongolia

China's Shenzhou 8 spacecraft landed in north China Thursday, after completing the country's first-ever space docking mission.

The spacecraft's re-entry module parachuted down at a landing site in Siziwang Banner (county) in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region at around 7:30 p.m. (5:30 a.m. CST, 1130 GMT) on Nov. 17, marking the end of the space docking mission.

Launched Nov. 1 from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China, Shenzhou 8 rendezvoused and docked with the Tiangong-1 space lab module two days later.

The joint vehicles orbited Earth for 12 days and conducted another docking after a brief separation on Nov. 14.

The Tiangong-1, which lifted off from the Jiuquan launch center on Sept. 29, will remain in orbit to await future docking attempts with the Shenzhou 9 and Shenzhou 10 spacecraft in 2012.

At least one of the two missions will take astronauts into space, said Wu Ping, spokeswoman for China's manned space program.

See here for discussion of Shenzhou 8 and the Tiangong-1 space module.

All times are CT (US)

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