Hong Kong’s Singtao Daily reports that China’s manned space program spokesman announced yesterday that the manned spacecraft Shenzhou-IX was expected to be launched in mid June at a selected opportune time to carry out China’s first manned space rendezvous.
It is said that a combination of the Shenzhou-IX space craft and Long March 2F rocket was moved to the launch pad yesterday. This means the launch of Shenzhou-IX has entered the backwards counting stage. In addition to its task of China’s first manned space rendezvous, Shenzhou-IX is to carry China’s first female astronaut to the space
According to China News Service, Shenzhou-IX has been filled with fuel and assembled with the carrier rocket to form an integrated combination. At 10:30am, the movable platform of the carrying combination moved out of the vertical assembly test plant of the manned spacecraft launching yard and arrived safely at the launching pad. It will undergo tests of the functions of the spacecraft and rocket and the combined test of people, spacecraft, rocket and the launch site.
The combination has already moved to the launch pad
The spokesman said that the Shenzhou-IX spacecraft, Long March 2F rocket and other equipment entered one by one into the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in April. Major work of assembly, test and other procedures at the technical area has been completed according to the test and launch procedures of the launch yard. Various preparations for fulfilment of the tasks with respect to the ground parameter test systems for the launch yard, test and control communication and ground pad have mostly been completed.
In addition, the crew of astronauts for this flight has completed the projects of theoretic and professional technical training for the task of the flight. They have received tailor-made simulated training of manual controlled docking, and are now well versed with the various operations, and are in satisfactory physical and mental state.
The spokesman also said that the target spacecraft Tiangong I moved to a lower orbit for rendezvous in early June, and is orbiting normally. So far, smooth progress has been made in all the preparatory work for the task of manned docking of Shenzhou-IX with Tiangong I.
Docking with Tiangong 1
On September 29, last year, China launched its first target spacecraft Tiangong I. In November, An unmanned space craft, Shenzhou-VIII, was launched and docked automatically with Tiangong I on November 3 to form a small “space laboratory”. It was the first rendezvous of spacecraft in China’s history of space travel, and made China the third country in the world to have completed a space rendezvous after Russia and the United States.
Twelve days later, Shenzhou-VIII separated from Tiangong I, conducted another docking test and then returned to Earth. At that time, China’s central TV station gave live coverage of the whole process of the docking.
In separate reports, Xinhua said that one crew member will remain in the Shenzhou IX as a precautionary measure in case of emergency, while the others enter Tiangong I. Shanghai’s Xinmin Evening News said that with improved electricity supply on the Shenzhou-IX spacecraft, astronauts will for the first time enjoy reheated food instead of cold meals.
China plans to conduct two space docking missions this year, and complete a manned 60-ton space station around 2020.
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Categories: Defence & Aerospace