China to launch next manned spacecraft in summer

Discussion in 'China' started by cir, Feb 17, 2012.

  1. cir

    cir Senior Member Senior Member

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    BEIJING | Fri Feb 17, 2012 1:39pm IST

    BEIJING (Reuters) - China will launch its next manned space mission sometime between June and August, which will attempt to dock with an experimental module launched last year, state news agency Xinhua reported Friday.

    It will be China's fourth manned space mission since 2003, when astronaut Yang Liwei orbited Earth 14 times, becoming the country's first man in space.

    For the next mission, three astronauts will attempt to dock with the Tiangong (Heavenly Palace) 1 module, launched on September 29 as part of China's exploratory preparations for a space lab, Xinhua said.

    China has already carried out a successful docking test between an unnamed spacecraft and the Tiangong 1.

    "The new space docking mission is ... another chance for China to test its docking technology," Xinhua cited an unnamed spokesman for China's manned space program as saying.

    "The three crew members ... will enter the Tiangong 1 vehicle to live and work there, conducting space science experiments," it added, without elaborating.

    China aims to have a fully fledged space station by about 2020.

    However, it is still far from catching up with the established space superpowers: the United States and Russia.

    Russia, the United States and other countries jointly operate the 400-tonne International Space Station, to which China does not belong.

    But the United States will not test a new rocket to take people into space until 2017, and Russia has said manned missions are no longer a priority.

    China also plans an unmanned moon landing and deployment of a moon rover. Scientists have raised the possibility of sending a man to the moon around 2020.

    (Reporting by Sally Huang and Ben Blanchard; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani)

    China to launch next manned spacecraft in summer | Reuters
     
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  3. cir

    cir Senior Member Senior Member

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    Manned mission to test docking of spacecraft

    Updated: 2012-02-18 07:32

    By Xin Dingding (China Daily)

    BEIJING - China plans to send three astronauts into space sometime between June and August this year to further test technology to be used in rendezvous and docking missions, a spokesman for China's manned space program said on Friday.

    The three astronauts, whose sexes were not specified, will board the spacecraft Shenzhou IX to rendezvous and dock with Tiangong-1, an orbiting space lab, the spokesman said.

    The mission will differ chiefly in one way from the automatic dockings that occurred between the unmanned spacecraft Shenzhou XIII and Tiangong-1 in November. This time, astronauts will attempt a manual docking.

    "The new space docking mission is ... another chance for China to test its docking technology," the spokesman said.

    Once the docking is complete, astronauts are to enter Tiangong-1, live there for an unspecified period of time and conduct scientific experiments, the spokesman said.

    Tiangong-1, whose name means Heavenly Palace in Chinese, is now ready to accommodate the astronauts. The Shenzhou IX spacecraft and its carrier rocket, the Long-March II-F, have been assembled and are undergoing final checks, the spokesman said.

    Rendezvous and docking technologies will be needed in the construction of a space station, one of which China plans to assemble by 2020. Last year, the country carried out its first unmanned space rendezvous and docking mission when Shenzhou VIII docked with Tiangong-1 in space.

    China plans to launch two more spacecraft - Shenzhou IX and Shenzhou X - this year to further test the technologies. Previously, officials had only been certain that the Shenzhou X spacecraft would carry astronauts on board, the first Chinese female astronaut likely being among them.

    As for Shenzhou IX, it remained unclear whether it was to be manned. Officials said a decision in that matter would hinge on an evaluation of the November mission.

    The spokesman said on Friday the rendezvous between Tiangong-1 and the unmanned Shenzhou VIII spacecraft produced favorable results.

    Chinese astronauts have been training to take part in manual docking mission since 2011. Tian Liping, an astronaut training official, said last year that the first batch of astronauts, including some who have already gone on space missions, are preparing to take part in a manual docking. To that end, each of them is expected to use a simulator at least 1,000 times to practice what they will do on the mission.

    The simulation requires trainees to use two handles to adjust the position of a virtual spacecraft so that it docks with Tiangong-1. They also are learning how to deal with different emergencies.

    Two female astronauts recruited in 2010 also underwent basic training for space missions. The Shenzhou IX mission is expected to be China's fourth manned space mission since 2003, when the astronaut Yang Liwei orbited Earth aboard the Shenzhou V spacecraft, becoming the first Chinese man in space.

    China Daily

    Manned mission to test docking of spacecraft|Nation|chinadaily.com.cn
     

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