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More Details Unveiled about China's Space Plan
   2016-03-01 08:41:01    CRIENGLISH.com      Web Editor: Luo Bin

A file photo of Tiangong-2. [Photo: baidu.com]

Additional details have been unveiled by Chinese space authorities about their plans for the creation of China's own orbiting space lab.

CRI's Luo Bin has more.

 

Reporter:
As part of the plan, the latest step will be the launch of the second space lab, the Tiangong-2, which is scheduled for the third quarter of this year.

Shortly afterward, the Shenzhou-11 spacecraft is due to carry two astronauts to dock with the lab sometime before the year is out.

The plan is to have them stay inside the new lab for 30 days, doubling the previous Chinese record for the longest manned space mission.

Nie Haisheng, chief of China's astronaut brigade, says staying in space for a longer period of time comes with a number of challenges.

"Firstly, we have to ensure the health and survival of our astronauts in orbit over the long-term. Secondly, we have to improve our monitoring and controls in our spacecraft. As we continue to build the space station, there will be a lot of equipment to move up there. This means they will have to spend more time in orbit inside the space station, as they will have to spend a lot of time setting-up and maintaining the equipment."

Nie Haisheng was in command of the Shenzhou-10 mission that completed the manned docking to the Tiangong-1 space lab in 2013.

He says the Chinese astronaut corps is also training to complete more space-walks.

"During the Shenzhou-7 mission, we conducted a space walk and accumulated some experience. But in the future, our astronauts are going to have to complete a lot of tasks during the space walks, as they will have to deal with issues such as equipment transfers, installation, repairs, maintenance and disassembling different components. We also have plans to carry out some scientific experiments outside the space capsule."

The new blueprint for the Chinese Space Station also includes the planned launch of the Tianzhou-1 cargo spacecraft, which is due to dock with Tiangong-2 in the first half of next year.

Wu Ping with the China Manned Space Engineering Office, says Tianzhou-1 is going to be critical to the construction of the space station.

"After we finish the testing of our new CZ-7 carrier rocket, we're going to use it to transport the Tianzhou 1 cargo spacecraft into orbit to dock with Tiangong-2. The flight will be a test of the key technology needed for the construction of the space station. It will also test our capasity to transport cargo and replenishing propellants in orbit."

Anything which hopes to remain in-orbit around our planet requires a form of propellant to keep it from slowly drifting into the atmosphere.

The full-scale construction of the Chinese space station is set to get underway in the next 4-years.

For CRI, this is Luo Bin.

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