Thursday, 28 June 2012

Chinese Astronauts return to Earth safely; Success on road to deep space!




Module re-entry process: Shenzhou-9’s journey back to earth CCTV News - CNTV English.



After thirteen days in space, the astronauts aboard the Shenzhou-9 spaceship will return to the Earth.

The first stage of the process is for the re-entry module to separate from the orbital capsule.

The propulsion module will later separate from the re-entry module, after it’s propelled it to a lower altitude of 140 kilometers. The re-entry module will then adjust its position before making its entry into the atmosphere. Well, as we can see, according to accurate calculation, the module is to land at Siziwang Banner, in central Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.

Let's see this simple illustration. The module will pass through the so-called "black out area". At this stage, communication is impossible, due to high levels of friction with the atmosphere, causing extreme temperatures. When the capsule is out of the black-out area, several parachutes will be released one by one, to gradually slow the module's descent. When the vehicle gets below 10km, the heat shield will be jettisoned. At 1 meter above the ground, 4 small engines will ignite to reduce the speed to a safe range for landing. Once on the ground; the re-entry module will communicate with the control center to show its location, so rescue teams find it as soon as possible.

The completion of the Shenzhou-9 mission will bring China one step closer to building its own fully-fledged space station by 2020. China's permanent space station is expected to weigh about 60 tons, so it require rockets such as Long March 5 rockets to send different parts into space. At the hub of China's future space station will be the Core Module. It will control the station's altitude, propulsion, and life support systems for the astronauts.

At one end of the core module is a small connecting chamber. On each side of this are the two Laboratory Modules. Experiments can be carried out both inside and outside these modules, testing such things as exposure to cosmic rays, a vacuum environment, and solar winds. On the other end of the space station is the cargo delivery module, which will carry supplies, equipment and energy stocks. Back on the other side, attached to the connecting chamber will be the Shenzhou spacecraft which will travel between the space station and the earth. China's space station is an ambitious and complicated structure but it’s still only about one-sixth the size of the International Space Station.

Currently flying at an orbit of around 400 kilometers above the earth is the International Space Station. The US and Russia have led the design and construction of the ISS, with 16 other countries also contributing to the project. China's main contribution to the ISS is the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer. It is a particle physics experimental instrument designed to search for anti-matter and dark matter. These two mysteries have been puzzling scientists for decades according to theory, they should exist.  But so far, no direct evidence has been found. It's planned that the ISS will plunge back into the ocean in 2028.

By that time, if China's space program goes according to plan, China's space complex will then be the only space station orbiting the earth.

The Success on road to space!


BEIJING, June 29 (Xinhua) -- The return of the Shenzhou-9 spacecraft to Earth Friday morning marked the end of a 13-day journey through space for three Chinese astronauts.

But it also marked the beginning of a new journey for China as it inches closer to its goal of building a space station.

China's space program has accomplished in 20 years' time the same tasks that took developed nations nearly half a century to accomplish, including manned space flights, space walks and a manned space docking procedure.

The recent successful docking of the Shenzhou-9 and Tiangong-1 lab module marks a new height for Chinese space exploration, as well as a new leap forward for national rejuvenation.

China's space exploration took a long time to ramp up. In 1992, 43 years after the founding of the People's Republic of China, the country decided to establish its manned space program.

Scientific policies have facilitated the program and helped it develop comprehensively and sustainably. The aerospace industry was given a larger role in the country's 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015) and authorities have taken pains to implement every step of the manned space program with great care.

The success of the Shenzhou-9 has demonstrated the power of China's collective wisdom and capability. About 110 research institutions have directly participated in the manned space program thus far, with more than 3,000 institutions and units coordinating their efforts.

The mission has also demonstrated the success of socialism, showing that it has the political advantage of accumulating wisdom and resources to achieve great things.

Facing limitless space, China's space program is only just beginning. The country will face challenges on its road to rejuvenation, but the success of the mission has boosted national confidence and shown China's people that the country's space program will have a bright future.- Xinhuat

Touchdown! Chinese Space Capsule With 3 Astronauts Returns to Earth 
Date: 28 June 2012 Time: 10:06 PM ET

This photograph of a China CCTV broadcast shows the Shenzhou 9 space capsule lying on its side after landing in an autonomous region of China in Inner Mongolia on June 29, 2012 Beijing time (10 p.m. June 28 EDT) to end a 13-day mission to the Tiangong 1 s
This photograph of a China CCTV broadcast shows the Shenzhou 9 space capsule lying on its side after landing in an autonomous region of China in Inner Mongolia on June 29, 2012 Beijing time (10 p.m. June 28 EDT) to end a 13-day mission to the Tiangong 1 space lab module.
CREDIT: CCTV

Three Chinese astronauts returned to Earth Thursday (June 28) after 13 days in space on a historic mission that made their country only the third nation ever to successfully dock a manned spacecraft to another in orbit.

China's Shenzhou 9 space capsule landed at about10 p.m. EDT (10 a.m. Friday, June 29 Beijing time) in Inner Mongolia, an autonomous region of the People's Republic of China.  To prepare for their journey home, the space crew — which included China's first female astronaut Liu Yang — separated the Shenzhou 9 capsule its target, the Tiangong 1 prototype space module, on Wednesday (June 27).

Their landing was broadcast live on China's state-run CCTV television network, showing the capsule streaking through the atmosphere like a meteor, deploying its main parachute, then making the final landing and rolling over on its side in a rough touchdown.

"We fulfilled the first manned manual docking," mission commander Jing Haipeng told CCTV reporters after exiting the Shenzhou 9 capsule. His comments in Chinese were translated into English by CCTV. "For the country and people all across the country, thank you for your concerns."  [Photos of China's Shenzhou 9 Mission]

Jing and crewmates Liu Yang and Liu Wang appeared to be in good health after their space mission. The trio wore broad smiles and waved to cameras after leaving their spacecraft, but did sit in reclined chairs to help ease their adaptation back to Earth's gravity after nearly two weeks in weightlessness.

Shortly after the landing, China's Premier Wen Jiabao proclaimed the Shenzhou 9 mission a complete success.

"This manned docking mission of Tiangong 1 and Shenzhou 9 marks a large milestone, a major breakthrough for China to master the space docking technology," Wen said while reading a statement. "And also, it marks a decisive step forward on China's second step on its space strategy."


Chinese astronaut Jing Haipeng, commander of the Shenzhou 9 mission, salutes after exiting the space capsule following landing in Inner Mongolia autonomous mission on June 28, 2012.
CREDIT: China Central Television/CCTV

China's big space leap

China's Shenzhou 9 mission, which included successful displays of manual and automatic dockings, represented an important leap forward for China's space program. In addition to being China's longest space mission to date, it also tested technology vital for the country's goal of building space station in orbit by the year 2020.

"Chinese astronauts have their own home in space now," Jing told China's President Hu Jintao on Tuesday (June 26) during a special call according to the state-run Xinhua news agency. "We are proud of our country!"

And while the orbital linkups are important technological achievements for China, the mission also carried a wider social impact because it included the country's first female astronaut: the 33-year-old Liu Yang.

"It was like a home in Tiangong, and I feel very happy and proud of my country," Liu Yang told reporters after landing.

Jing, the commander, is China's first veteran astronaut to fly in space twice. The third crewmember, Liu Wang, served as the Shenzhou 9 docking pilot.

"It feels really good to feel the ground and to be back home," Liu Wang said.

Shenzhou 9 mission, which launched into space on June 16, accomplished China's first manned space docking, after the spacecraft robotically docked to Tiangong 1 on June 18. Several days later, on June 24, the astronauts backed away from the orbiting module and parked their Shenzhou 9 spacecraft once more, demonstrating manual control over the procedure as well.



The successful linkups made China only the third country, after the United States and Russia, to accomplish manned dockings in orbit.

The Shenzhou 9 mission, as well as experiments performed aboard Tiangong 1 throughout the flight, tested technologies that will help China fulfill its goal of building a 60-ton space station in orbit by 2020.

"The data will help us improve technologies for astronauts' future, long-term stays in a space station," said Chen Shanguang, chief commander of the mission's astronaut system, according to Xinhua

China is not a member nation of the $100 billion International Space Station in low-Earth orbit, a roughly 430-ton orbiting outpost that is jointly operated by more than a dozen countries.

But Chinese officials have outlined an ambitious space program for the nation, which includes collecting samples from the moon and robotically returning them to Earth before landing astronauts on the lunar surface.

The Shenzhou 9 mission is China's fourth manned spaceflight. Previous expeditions were launched in 2003, 2005 and 2008.

The Tiangong 1 test module was launched into orbit in September 2011. In November, a robotic spacecraft, called Shenzhou 8, completed the country's first unmanned space docking. According to Chinese officials, Tiangong 1 has performed well, and could play host to another crew in the near future.

"Based on current conditions, the service of Tiangong 1 can be extended," said He Yu, chief commander of the Shenzhou 9 spacecraft, reported Xinhua. "It has consumed less than one-fourth of its fuel and no back-up systems have been used."

Depending on its condition, the module could remain in orbit as China continues its space station construction efforts.

"If Tiangong 1 was in perfect shape, it could work side by side with Tiangong 2, which will be launched in the future," He said.

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