[FPSPACE] Shenzhou-7 to deploy small satellite

Bart Hendrickx bhen at scarlet.be
Fri Apr 18 05:41:13 EDT 2008


 

 


Apparently, the Chinese are planning to deploy a small satellite from the
Shenzhou-7 spacecraft shortly after its launch next October :

 

 

16/04/2008 China to establish space lab - Xinhua 


Text of report by official Chinese news agency Xinhua (New China News
Agency) Asia-Pacific service 

Beijing, 20 March (Xinhua) - A space laboratory system will be established
to further develop manned space flight scientific activities. This is part
of the plan of the "second phase" of the Chinese Manned Space Flight
Projects, which will begin with the launch of the Shenzhou VII.

Gu Yidong, academician and president of the Academy of Opto-Electronics
[AOE] under the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and designer in chief of the
Utility System of the Chinese Manned Space Flight Projects [CMSFP], told the
Xinhua reporter the above-mentioned information.

The Shenzhou VII will be launched in the second half of 2008 and will mark
the first time that [Chinese] astronauts walk out of their space capsule.

Gu Yidong said: "This will be the beginning of the second phase. With the
breakthrough of key 'space walk' and 'docking of spacecraft' technologies,
more manned space flight scientific activities will gradually be launched.
Viewed from a long-term perspective, we hope that in future scientists can
fly skywards to participate in space scientific experiments."

He noted that after the launch of Shenzhou VII, an accompanying small
satellite will be released to observe the operation of the spaceship. "Apart
from conducting environmental surveys in space and basic scientific
experiments, the small satellite can also link-up with the space lab. It can
therefore effectively extend the function of the space lab. This is
tantamount to extending the premise of the space lab from several hundred
meters to dozens of kilometres," Gu said.

According to the planning of China's aerospace industry, China's manned
space flight will be implemented in three phases: First, unmanned and then
manned spaceships are launched, with astronauts being safely sent into
near-Earth orbit to conduct space-to-Earth surveys and scientific
experiments. The astronauts are then brought safely back to Earth. At
present, this phase has been completed.

The second phase highlights astronauts conducting activities outsi de the
space capsule and the docking of spaceship and capsule. The astronaut will
also launch short-term manned space labs and carry out several pioneering
space scientific experiments and advanced space utility technological
experiments. In the third phase, a long-term operational near-Earth orbit
manned space station will be established.

Before this, Qi Faren, academic at the Chinese Academy of Engineering,
revealed that Chinese astronauts have been participating in various training
programmes such as opening and closing the hatch of the capsule, walking and
working outside the capsule, and so forth - this, in preparation for
activities involving space walks outside of the Shenzhou VII capsule.

According to the Gu Yidong briefing, the work of the astronaut outside the
capsule will include bringing experimental material from the utility system
back into the capsule.

Source: Xinhua news agency, Beijing, in Chinese 1419 gmt 20 Mar 08 

 

Presumably, the satellite will be attached to the front part of the orbital
module, where a remote sensing package was installed on earlier Shenzhou
vehicles. If it remains in the immediate vicinity of Shenzhou, it could make
images of China's first historic spacewalk. 

Because of the poor translation from Chinese, the following is open to
interpretation : "Apart from conducting environmental surveys in space and
basic scientific experiments, the small satellite can also link up with the
space lab. It can therefore effectively extend the function of the space
lab. This is tantamount to extending the premise of the space lab from
several hundred meters to dozens of kilometers". 

If "spacelab" means "orbital module", one interpretation could be that the
satellite has the capability to redock with the orbital module and use its
own engines to correct the module's orbit after the separation of the
descent capsule and service module. This could give the orbital module a
more extensive maneuvering capability than what has been demonstrated on
earlier Shenzhou missions. Hopefully, further announcements from the Chinese
will shed further light on the actual plans.

Bart Hendrickx 

 

 

 



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