China launches the first unit of its new space station | Science


China’s ambitious space program, which was almost in its infancy only two decades ago, has taken a formidable new step forward. It launched the first unit of its space station on Thursday, which will operate in parallel with the International Space Station (ISS), as a result of cooperation between fifteen countries. According to Beijing’s plans, this year it will start hosting manned missions; Its construction will be completed by the end of 2022.

Launch of the Long March-5B missile carrying the unit TianheThe “Celestial Harmony” occurred at 11:23 a.m. local time (05:23 Spanish Peninsula Time) from the Chinese space base, Wenchang, on the equatorial island of Hainan, the Xinhua News Agency reported. Tianhe It will orbit the Earth at an altitude of between 340 and 450 km. It is 16.6 meters long and 4.2 meters wide, and will be the control center and accommodation area for future manned missions to the space station.

Chinese Space Station (CSS for English abbreviation, or TiangongHeavenly Palace, as it is called in your country) will have two more units, Wentian s Mingtian – “Celestial Quest” and “Celestial Dream” respectively – two labs to be installed on each side of Tianhe. In total, the T-shaped construction will weigh about 90 tons and reach similar dimensions to the Russian MIR, although it will be four times smaller than the International Space Station. It is designed to accommodate teams of three astronauts during long stays, although as many as six people may encounter inside it during relay times between crews. Chinese Space Agency (CSNA) experts expect it can operate for a maximum of fifteen years.

In total, the T-shaped construction will weigh about 90 tons and reach dimensions comparable to the Russian MIR

Ten more missions will be required to complete the project, four missions this year and six more missions, when the lab units are launched. There will be four cargo missions, which will transport materials for CSS replenishment and adaptations on board Tianzhu-2 s Tianzhu 3. The first will be leaving next month.

Four others – two this year, and two in 2022 – will be up and running. First, on the ship Shenzhou 12It will start in June and will remain in orbit for three months. The second, in Shenzhou-13, six months. It’s a huge logistical challenge for the Chinese space program: So far, the longest time Chinese astronauts have spent in space has been 33 days.

China – which does not participate in the International Space Station due to a veto from NASA, and whose country’s laws prohibit cooperation with Beijing – plans to use its space station to test key technologies in its ambitions to explore outer space and counteract material in space. Notably, he wants to verify the operation of the new “life support system”, a technology that recycles water, oxygen and other materials necessary to allow survival without costly – and huge – shipments of material from the ground. An essential technology for developing long-term manned missions or Create a base on the moonOne of the Chinese space scientists’ greatest dreams.

“In previous missions, we included the loads of water and oxygen for the astronauts. But for three to six months, water and oxygen would fill the cargo tanks, with no room for other essential materials. So we installed a new life support system in the central unit to recycle urine, exhaled air and carbon dioxide. Bai Linhu, chief CSS designer at the Chinese Academy of Space Technology, said.

According to Baye, “We will learn to assemble, operate and maintain a large spacecraft in orbit.” He added that the goal is to have a “space laboratory that can be used for long-term residence for astronauts, as well as for ambitious experiments.”

China asserts that CSS was not built to compete with the International Space Station, which is made by fifteen countries, and stressed that it is open to international cooperation in its future space station, and has already chosen, in cooperation with the United Nations, experiments carried out by foreign researchers. To carry them out in those facilities.

“We have to make sure that every launch is reliable and that operating the spacecraft in orbit is risk-free and completely safe. Every mission is a test of our ability to organize, manage, technology and support. Xinhua Zhou Jianping, chief designer of China’s manned space exploration program.

Since sending its first astronaut into space in 2003, Beijing has invested billions of euros in its space program. This program, through which China aspires to compete with the NASA program in another area of ​​competition between the two great world powers, has already made great progress in the past two decades.

In 2019, set a global milestone by reaching the far side of the Moon and starting to explore it; Last year, your investigation Chang’e-5 Soil samples reconstituted. After sending a probe to Mars orbit earlier this year, it plans in the coming weeks to deposit a rover on the surface of the Red Planet.

In addition, it plans to launch other research expeditions for asteroids; By 2019, you want to reach the orbit of Jupiter, the largest planet in the Solar System. In March, it signed a memorandum of cooperation with the Russian Space Agency to plan a future joint station on the moon, which experts hope to operate in about ten years.

After the launch on Thursday, Chinese President Xi Jinping sent a congratulatory message calling for “self-sufficiency and innovation to win the victory of building the space station, and contribute to building a modern socialism. Country.”

You can follow Thing On The social networking site FacebookAnd the Twitter e InstagramOr, register here to receive Weekly newsletter.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *