Saturday, 9 June 2012

China to launch 3 astronauts in new manned space flight docking

 • China will launch its Shenzhou-9 manned spacecraft sometime in mid-June.
 • Shenzhou-9 and its carrier rocket, the Long March-2F, had been moved to the launch platform.
 • In the next few days, scientists will conduct functional tests on the spacecraft and the rocket.

The Shenzhou-9 manned spacecraft, the Long March-2F rocket, and the escape tower are vertically transferred to the launch pad at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China's Gansu Province, June 9, 2012. China will launch its Shenzhou-9 manned spacecraft sometime in mid-June to perform the country's first manned space docking mission with the orbiting Tiangong-1 space lab module, a spokesperson with the country's manned space program said here Saturday. (Xinhua/Wang Jianmin)

Click to see more photos

JIUQUAN, Gansu, June 9 (Xinhua) -- China will launch its Shenzhou-9 manned spacecraft sometime in mid-June to perform the country's first manned space docking mission with the orbiting Tiangong-1 space lab module, a spokesperson said here Saturday.

By 10:30 a.m. Saturday, the spacecraft and its carrier rocket, the Long March-2F, had been moved to the launch platform at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China, a spokesperson with the country's manned space program said.

In the next few days, scientists will conduct functional tests on the spacecraft and the rocket, as well as joint tests on selected astronauts, spacecraft, rocket and ground systems, according to the spokesperson.

The Shenzhou-9 will be launched into space to perform China's first manned space docking mission with the orbiting Tiangong-1 space lab module.

The manned spacecraft Shenzhou-9 and its carrier rocket were delivered to the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in early April this year.

The Tiangong-1, or Heavenly Palace-1, was lowered to docking orbit in early June and is orbiting normally, the spokesperson said.

The final preparations are running smoothly, and the selected astronauts have completed their training and are in sound physical and mental conditions, according to the spokesperson.

Niu Hongguang, deputy commander-in-chief of the country's manned space program, said earlier that the three-person crew on Shenzhou-9 might include female astronauts, but the final selection would be decided "on the very last condition."

The space docking mission will be manually conducted by astronauts, giving China another chance to test its docking technology, the program's spokesperson said previously.

One of the three Shenzhou-9 crew members will not board the Tiangong-1 space module lab, but will remain inside the spacecraft as a precautionary measure in case of emergency, the spokesperson said.

The target module Tiangong-1, which blasted off on Sept. 29, 2011, went into long-term operation in space awaiting docking attempts of Shenzhou-9 and Shenzhou-10 after completing China's first space docking mission with the unmanned Shenzhou-8 spacecraft in early November.

Related: 

Shenzhou-9 spacecraft delivered to launch center
BEIJING, April 9 (Xinhua) -- The manned spacecraft Shenzhou-9 was delivered to the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China on Monday, a spokesman with the country's manned space program said.  Full story

Shenzhou-9 may take female astronaut to space: official
BEIJING, March 12 (Xinhua) -- Authorities have completed the initial selection of crew members for China's first manned space docking mission, and the roster includes female astronauts, an official with the country's manned space program has said.  Full story

China to carry out manned space flight

China's Long March 2F rocket carrying the Tiangong-1 module blasts off from the Jiuquan launch centre on September 29 2011 The manned space flight will dock with the Tiangong 1 space station module, pictured here being launched
 
Related Stories
China has announced it will carry out a manned space flight at some point in the middle of June.

A rocket carrying the Shenzhou 9 spacecraft has been moved to a launch pad in the north-west of the country.

According to state news agency Xinhua, it will carry three astronauts - possibly including a woman - to the Taingong 1 space station module.

This will be China's fourth manned space flight and its first since 2008.

It became only the third country to independently send a man into space in 2003.

Stellar plans
 
Last year, China completed a complicated space docking manoeuvre when an unmanned craft docked with the Taingong 1, or "Heavenly Body", by remote control.

The astronauts onboard the Shenzhou 9 spacecraft will also dock with the Taingong 1 - an experimental module currently orbiting Earth - and carry out scientific experiments on board.

Xinhua reported that Niu Hongguang, deputy commander-in-chief of China's manned space programme, said the crew "might include female astronauts".

The mission is part of China's programme to develop a full orbiting space station.

Beijing is planning to complete the 60-tonne manned space station by 2020.

China was previously turned away from the International Space Station, a much bigger project run by 16 nations, reportedly after objections from the United States.- BBC

China to Launch 3 Astronauts to Space Lab This Month

China Long March 2F rocket rolls out to launch pad for Shenzhou 9 mission in June 2012.
A Long March 2F rocket carrying the Shenzhou 9 rocket rolls out to the launch pad at China's Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center ahead of a planned June 2012 launch of the country's first manned space docking mission.
CREDIT: China Manned Space Engineering Office


China will launch its first manned mission to an orbiting space laboratory in mid-June, according to state media reports and the country's human spaceflight agency.

A Long March 2F rocket will launch three astronauts aboard a Shenzhou 9 capsule for China's first manned space docking at the mini-space station Tiangong-1. The space lab module has been circling Earth unmanned since its launch last year.

"The Shenzhou 9 will perform our country's first manned space docking mission with the orbiting Tiangong 1 space lab module," the Xinhua news agency quoted Zhou Jianping, chief designer of China's manned space program, as saying today (June 9).

Zhou's comments came as he accompanied the rocket set to launch the Shenzhou 9 mission to a pad at China's Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the country's northwest region.

The mission, Zhou told Xinhua, will be a major milestone for China's space exploration program.

"It means China's spacecraft will become a genuine manned shuttle tool between space and Earth. It can send human beings to space stations or space labs," Zhou told Xinhua. "This will be a significant step in China's manned space flight history."  [Gallery: Tiangong 1, China's First Space Lab]



China's Shenzhou 9 mission will mark the fourth human spaceflight for the country, which has been making steady advances since the launch of Chinese astronaut Yang Liwei in 2003 on Shenzhou 5, the country's first human spaceflight. China is the third country to achieve human spaceflight after Russia and the United States.

Since its first flight, China has launched two more manned missions, the two-man Shenzhou 6 flight and three-person Shenzhou 7 mission. Last September, China launched the Tiangong 1 module — a prototype for a future space station — into orbit. That launch was followed in November by the unmanned Shenzhou 8 mission, which successfully docked a capsule with the space laboratory twice during the test flight.

The Shenzhou 9 mission will mark China's first human spaceflight to an orbiting module. Earlier this year, space program officials said the mission could also mark the first launch of China's first female astronaut, but a final decision on that is pending, Xinhua reported.

China Long March 2F rocket rolls out to launch pad for Shenzhou 9 mission in June 2012.
This image released by the China Manned Space Engineering Office shows
the Long March 2F rocket carrying the Shenzhou 9 capsule that will launch
three astronauts to the Tiangong 1 space lab in June 2012.
CREDIT: China Manned Space Engineering Office
A translation of an announcement released online by the China Manned Space Engineering Office (CMSE), which oversees China's human spaceflight program, stated that preparations of both the rocket and Shenzhou 9 astronaut crew are going smoothly.

A series of spacecraft and rocket tests, as well as final mission training, are underway ahead of the planned spaceflight, CMSE officials said.

China's Shenzhou (or "Divine Vessel") spacecraft are three-module space capsules with a design originally based on Russia's Soyuz space capsules, but the Chinese vehicles carry substantial modifications.

Like the Soyuz, Shenzhou vehicles carry up to three astronauts and consist of a propulsion module, a crew capsule and an orbital module. But unlike Russia's Soyuz, the orbital module of Shenzhou spacecraft carries its own solar arrays and can remain in space after its crew returns to Earth in the crew capsule.

China's Tiangong 1 ("Heavenly Palace 1") space laboratory module, meanwhile, is a prototype space station designed to test the technologies required for a much larger space station complex currently under development. The Tiangong 1 module is 34 feet long (10.4 meters), 11 feet wide (3.35 m) and weighed about 8.5 metric tons.

Chinese space officials have said the country is developing a larger, 60-ton space station that will consist of several modules. That space station is slated to be launched in 2020.

China is currently following a three-step space exploration program that ultimately aims to land an astronaut on the moon. According to a white paper released by the Chinese government in December, the country plans to launch a series of robotic moon landers and a lunar sample-return mission by 2016.

Newscribe : get free news in real time

Related posts:

China will launch three astronauts, including a woman on Saturday 

China completes nation's first space docking Nov 03, 2011

China's space station program Nov 01, 2011  
China's Next Step in Space: Critical Docking Demo in ... Oct 02, 2011
China Successfully Launches 1st Space Lab Module ...Sep 30, 2011