China’s space dream crystallized with Shenzhou-10 launch

 

Photos taken on June 11, 2013 show the launch process of Long March-2F carrier rocket

carrying China’s manned Shenzhou-10 spacecraft from the launch pad at the Jiuquan

Satellite Launch Center in Jiuquan, northwest China’s Gansu Province. China successfully

launched Shenzhou-10 spacecraft at 5:38 p.m. on Tuesday afternoon of June 11, 2013.

Upper two photos by Wang Jianmin     Lower two photos by Li Gang 

 

 

By Fu Shuangqi, Meng Na, Ji Shaoting an Huang Xin  

China successfully launched its fifth manned spacecraft late on Tuesday afternoon of June 11, sending three astronauts on the country’s longest space trip.

With 10 astronauts and six spacecraft launched into space in a decade, China is speeding up on the path of exploration and building a home for Chinese in the galaxy.

At a see-off ceremony held hours before the launch, Chinese President Xi Jinping extended good wishes to the three astronauts.

“The mission’s crew members carry a space dream of the Chinese nation, and represent the lofty aspirations of the Chinese people to explore space,” said Xi.

The President later watched the launch at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China, and shook hands with staff at the center after the successful launch.

Unlike the space trip of Yang Liwei, China’s first astronaut who boarded the Shenzhou-5 spacecraft in 2003, of less than a day, the three astronauts will stay for half a month.

In its journey, Shenzhou-10 will dock with the orbiting space lab Tiangong-1 twice, once through automatic operation and the other manual, and a lecture will for the first time be given on board the assembled orbiter to a group of teenage students on the ground.

Compared with the previous nine Shenzhou spacecraft, the Shenzhou-10 is no longer experimental but considered an applicable shuttle system for transporting astronauts and supplies to orbiting modules.

“It is like developing a new type of car. You have to try it on roads of different conditions. Now trials are over and the car can be put into formal operation,” said Zhou Jianping, chief engineer of China’s manned space program.

On the other hand, the upgraded Long March-2F carrier rocket is technically the same as the one used with the Shenzhou-9 manned spacecraft.

“No alteration means that China’s rocket technology is becoming mature,” said Jing Muchun, chief designer of the carrier rocket.

This mission aims to further test technologies designed for docking and supporting astronauts’ stay in space, as well as to use new technologies related to the construction of a space station, said Wu Ping, China’s manned space program spokeswoman, at a press conference on Monday.

The Tiangong-1 space lab has been in orbit for about 620 days, and about three months are left before the designated end of its service.

The module is considered the first step toward China operating a permanent space station around 2020 and making it the world’s third country to do so.

The nation is likely to launch a space station before 2016.

There are risks that the conditions of some components on Tiangong-1 might not be at their best since the module is near the end of its service and has gone through four docking tests, Wu said.

For Nie Haisheng, commander of the three-member crew and a second-time space traveler, this mission will be longer, with more experiments to be conducted, than his previous outing in 2006.

“It will be a new challenge with greater risks,” Nie told the media on Monday.

However, he is looking forward to entering the space lab module. “My colleagues and I will work in a home for Chinese in space,” he said.

For this mission, the manned space program also considered approaching the public.

In a lecture through a live video feed system, female astronaut Wang Yaping will introduce motion in a microgravity environment, surface tension of liquid, and help students understand weight, mass and Newton’s Laws.

Wang will also interact with students and teachers on Earth and the lecture will be broadcast live.

Ordinary Chinese, especially science enthusiasts, are excited about the new mission.

“It is a festival for space fans,” said Zhao Yang, a researcher with the China Science and Technology Museum, who just watched the Hollywood sci-fi blockbuster Star Trek Into Darkness on Monday.

He was very much interested in the lecture to be given in space, saying, “There might be an interesting introduction about the weightless condition.”

For renowned science fiction novelist Liu Xinci, Tuesday’s events reinforced his belief that he will live to see space travel become accessible for all common people.

He has a very vivid vision of future life.

“In the next century, human beings will set foot on all planets in the solar system. People will inhabit the moon and Mars. A lot of people will work in space as space journeys will be as easy as flights.”

 

COMMUNISTS IN SPACE

The three-member crew were all veteran Air Force pilots before being selected as astronauts. Nie is the first general visiting space while his teammate Wang Yaping is China’s first space traveler born in the 1980s, a generation growing up in era of reform and opening up.

All of them are members of the Communist Party of China.

Yang Liwei, the country’s first astronaut, once told Xinhua that Chinese astronauts might not pray like their foreign counterparts do before they set off on a space mission; however, Communism, as their shared faith, supports them.

“If the country has its own space station, Chinese astronauts, who are Party members, might set up a Party branch up there,” Yang said.

Of the crew, 48-year-old Nie is commander of this mission, and responsible for the manual docking operation with the Tiangong-1 target orbiter.

Zhang Xiaoguang, 47, will assist the commander to accomplish the spacecraft’s manual docking with Tiangong-1. Another job that Zhang will be doing in space is to film Wang’s lecture lecture, which will be broadcast to middle and elementary school students in China.

Wang, 33, is the second Chinese female astronaut after Liu Yang in the Shenzhou-9 mission, which blasted off in June last year. Wang will be responsible for monitoring the conditions of the spacecraft, space experiments, operation of equipment and taking care of fellow crew members.

 

 

Astronauts Nie Haisheng (right), Zhang Xiaoguang (center) and Wang Yaping (left) wave to 

people during the setting-out ceremony of the manned Shenzhou-10 mission at the

Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in Jiuquan, northwest China’s Gansu Province, on June 11,

2013.   Photo by Li Peibin 

 

Astronauts Nie Haisheng (center), Zhang Xiaoguang (right) and Wang Yaping (left)

wave during the setting-out ceremony of the manned Shenzhou-10 mission at the

Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in Jiuquan, northwest China’s Gansu Province,

on June 11, 2013.   Photo by Pang Xinglei 

 

Chinese President Xi Jinping (right) attends a see-off ceremony for Chinese astronauts of

an upcoming manned space mission at the astronauts’ apartment building in the Jiuquan

Satellite Launch Center in Jiuquan, northwest China’s Gansu Province, on June 11, 2013.

The three astronauts are Nie Haisheng, Zhang Xiaoguang and Wang Yaping.

Photos by Li Xueren

 

 

Chinese President Xi Jinping, also general secretary of the Central Committee of the

Communist Party of China (CPC) and chairman of the Central Military Commission

(CMC), waves to journalists and staff members at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in

Jiuquan, northwest China’s Gansu Province, on June 11, 2013.   Photo by Pang Xinglei

 

 

 

Chinese President sees off

Shenzhou-10 crew,

watches spacecraft launch

 

By Tian Ye, Shi Shouhe and Huang Xin

President Xi Jinping said on Tuesday of June 11 that crew members of an upcoming manned space mission carry a “space dream” of the Chinese nation and represent the lofty aspirations of the Chinese people to explore space.

Xi made the remarks when attending a see-off ceremony for Chinese astronauts of the Shenzhou-10 space mission at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, where he watched the launch of the Shenzhou-10 manned spacecraft.

Xi, also general secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC), has just wrapped up his trip to Latin America and the United States and returned to China on Sunday.

The president came into the astronauts’ apartment building on Tuesday afternoon to see off Nie Haisheng, Zhang Xiaoguang and Wang Yaping.

“On behalf of the CPC Central Committee, the State Council, the CMC, as well as people of all ethnic backgrounds across the country, I’m here to see you off,” said Xi.

Shenzhou-10 is China’s fifth manned space mission. The president described the mission as both glorious and sacred. “You made Chinese people feel proud of ourselves,” he said.

“You have trained and prepared yourselves carefully and thoroughly, so I am confident in your completing the mission successfully,” he added.

“I wish you success and look forward to your triumphant return,” Xi told the astronauts.

After their brief meeting with Xi and other Party and military officials, the astronauts, in white space suits, walked out of the apartment compound, called Wentiange, or “Ask-Heaven Pavilion,” at the launch center.

They came to a square where they were greeted by a cheerful crowd and reported to Zhang Youxia, commander-in-chief of the country’s manned space program.

“Proceed!” Zhang said.

The astronauts then took a vehicle and left for the launch pad.

At 5:33 p.m., Xi mounted on a terrace of the commanding tower to watch the launch of the spacecraft.

After the rocket blasted off at 5:38 p.m., Xi came to the command hall, where he watched conditions of the spacecraft through images and parameters on the screen.

With the announcement of the launch’s success, Xi voiced his congratulations, shaking hands with those participating in the program and sending his warm greetings to them.

Premier Li Keqiang and Liu Yunshan, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, watched a live broadcast of the launch at the Beijing Aerospace Control Center.

The Shenzhou-10 mission is the first application-orientated flight under China’s space program since the country initiated the manned space program in 1992.

China successfully sent Yang Liwei, the country’s first astronaut, into orbit on Shenzhou-5 in 2003 and another seven astronauts, including one female, into space in the next nine years.

The three astronauts in the upcoming mission are all CPC members. 48-year-old Major General Nie Haisheng is commander of this mission, and responsible for the manual docking operation with the Tiangong-1 target orbiter.

Zhang Xiaoguang, 47, will assist the commander to accomplish the spacecraft’s manual docking with Tiangong-1.

Wang, 33, is the second Chinese female astronaut after Liu Yang entered the record books with the Shenzhou-9 mission in June last year. Wang will be responsible for monitoring the conditions of the spacecraft, space experiments, operation of equipment and taking care of fellow crew members. She will also lead a lecture to be broadcast from space to students on Earth.

The Shenzhou-10 astronauts will orbit Earth for 15 days, the longest time in the country’s manned space program. The Shenzhou-10 spacecraft will dock with the orbiting space lab Tiangong-1 twice, once through automatic operation and the other manual.

 

 

Commander-in-chief of China’s manned space program Zhang Youxia announces

that the launch of the manned Shenzhou-10 spacecraft was successful at the Jiuquan

Satellite Launch Center in Jiuquan, northwest China’s Gansu Province, on June 11, 2013.  

Photos by Yang Lei and Pang Xinglei

 

Chinese President Xi Jinping, also general secretary of the Central Committee of

the Communist Party of China (CPC) and chairman of the Central Military Commission

(CMC), shakes hands with those participating in the program of Shenzhou-10 manned

spacecraft and sending his warm greetings to them at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch

Center in Jiuquan, northwest China’s Gansu Province, on June 11, 2013. Xi watched

conditions of the spacecraft through images and parameters on the screen at the

command hall.   Photos by Pan Xinglei and Li Xueren

 

 

Chinese President

shares his joy with

space program staff

 

By Zhou Fang 

President Xi Jinping met with representatives from organizations participating in the Shenzhou-10 Manned Spacecraft flight mission on Tuesday evening of June 11 at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center.

At 17:38 p.m., a three-member crew including one woman set off on the new space mission.

In the meeting, Xi extended his warm congratulations and sincere greetings to all the participants of the latest launch, on behalf of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC), the State Council and the Central Military Commission (CMC).

“Today, the Shenzhou-10 Spacecraft has been successfully launched and precisely put into the orbit, which means that our country’s fifth manned space mission has succeeded in the first phase,” said Xi, who is also general secretary of the CPC Central Committee and chairman of the CMC.

“At this very moment, I am sharing the same feeling with everyone,” he went on saying. “I am very happy and excited.”

In his speech, the president highlighted the Space Dream that China has pursued continuously by developing the space program and turning the country into a space power.

Xi spoke highly of those involved in the manned space program for their persistence in the ideal and pursuit to pay back the nation by developing a space industry, as well as their hard work.

“The Party and the people will never forget the prominent achievements made by all the comrades for the nation’s space undertakings,” he stressed.

The mission of the Shenzhou-10 Manned Spacecraft is of great significance for the country’s efforts to consolidate and improve the rendezvous and docking technology and promote the development of space lab and space station, Xi said.

He urged the staff of the manned space program to sum up experience, exert persistent efforts and carry out all the subsequent work carefully.

 

 

 

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Liu Yunshan, a member of the Standing Committee of

the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, shake hands

with staff members at the Beijing Aerospace Control Center in Beijing, on June 11, 2013.

Li and Liu watched a live broadcast of the launch of the manned Shenzhou-10 spacecraft.    

Photo by Li Tao

 

Technicians trace and monitor Shenzhou-10 spacecraft at a control central located

in Taiyuan, north China’s Shanxi Province, on June 11, 2013.   Photo by Fan Minda

 

Technicians trace and monitor Shenzhou-10 spacecraft at a control central located

in Taiyuan, north China’s Shanxi Province, on June 11, 2013.    Photo by Fan Minda

 

 

 

COMMENTARY 

China’s space dream

a humble one

 

By Yan Hao, Meng Na and Li Huizi 

Ten years after China sent its first man into low earth orbit, three astronauts operating the Shenzhou-10 spacecraft started a journey on a mission which seeks a permanent space station around 2020.

Chinese President Xi Jinping said at the launch site that the crew carry a “space dream” of the Chinese nation and represent the lofty aspirations of the Chinese people to explore space.

The dream, though also dreamt by the more frequent space travelers of Russia and American, includes a manned space station, moon exploration and even deep space odysseys.

The dream is a humble one. China was decades behind Russia and the United States in space technology. But Chinese pursue it unswervingly in line with a carefully designed three-phase manned space program.

Two years after the space flight operated by China’s first astronaut, Yang Liwei, two men, including Shenzhou-10 commander Nie Haisheng, orbited the earth in 2005. Then three more in 2008, two of whom finished China’s first extra-vehicular activities (EVA).

After the unmanned Shenzhou-8 and Tiangong-1 space module docking in 2011 to test automated space docking, a key skill to assemble a space station, three Chinese astronauts succeeded in operating the docking manually in 2012.

The Shenzhou-10 mission, if successful, marks the end of the first half of the second phase, which means China has completely mastered EVA and space docking skills.

These missions were comparatively easy for other space giants. China’s Long March rockets carry much lower payloads than NASA’s Saturn V, and Tiangong-1 is much smaller than both the Soviet Mir space station and the International Space Station (ISS).

However, just as the female astronaut Wang Yaping said, “we are all students in facing the vast universe.” China’s pursuit of its own space dream showcases a latecomer’s unremitting interests and desire to learn about the universe.

During the 15-day Shenzhou-10 mission, Wang will hold a class in space educating a group of students from a high school in Beijing through satellite communication.

This in-orbit event, hopefully broadcast live, will inspire students and also spur citizen’s space interests in a country with 1.3-billion people, making this an unparalleled popularization of science in human history.

Similar to other space giants, China’s space program was carried out by astronauts selected from air force pilots and supported by military resources. But China has reaffirmed that it opposes militarization of the space and will utilize the space in a peaceful way.

After the year 2020, China’s future space station will probably be the only one of any kind in service considering the ISS’s retirement plan. By then, China’s space dream will not only serve its own people but also contribute to space exploration for the human race.

 

 

 

Space enthusiasts dream

big after Shenzhou-10 launch

 

By Ji Shaoting and Li Baojie 

The expectation within Ji Shisan grew stronger and stronger as he waited for the launch of the Shenzhou-10 spacecraft at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the Gobi desert of northwest China.

Ji, founder of science club Scientific Squirrel and popular science website Guokr.com, said that the more other people told him about viewing spacecraft launches live, the stronger his desire became to have this privilege himself.

His wishes came true when he joined around 1,000 spectators, mostly ordinary members of the public, who were accepted to witness Shenzhou-10′s blast-off up close on Tuesday afternoon.

“I have long watched spacecraft launches on TV, when I could only see the scenes and hear the sounds. But watching at the scene this time must be three-dimensional,” Ji said as he waited excitedly at the Jiuquan launch center.

“Many people who have witnessed on-site launches said a strong heatwave flaps upon the spectators. Wow, the feeling must be very special,” he added.

While Ji and the other lucky spectators will no doubt leave with lifelong cherished memories, people across China have been inspired by the mission. For many, they are now thinking about the fantastical possibilities of space travel, while the mission is offering members of the public accessible insights into this field of science.

During the fifth manned space mission, astronauts will deliver science lectures to students on Earth through a live video feed system while in orbit.

The lectures could be the forerunner of future space lessons in which kids on Earth can acquire knowledge from the moon and Mars, while people born on the two planets can get understanding of Earth through long-distance simulations, Ji speculated.

He hopes that he can enter space within his lifetime and maybe even meet beings from other celestial bodies.

“In outer space, people would be able to see themselves from another angle and it is the same with meeting extraterrestrial life. The aliens could have quite different understandings of time, space and even life. Through contact with them, humankind could again examine the meanings of

life,” Ji said.

Entering outer space is an equally tantalizing prospect for Yu Jun, an editor of Guokr.com.

Yu said that if he got the chance to go, he would spend much time taking photos of Earth. “We can watch Venus, Mars, Saturn and Jupiter at home through an astronomical telescope, but we could only view Earth after leaving it,” he explained.

“I would also wish to watch the stars without the obstruction of atmosphere,” added the editor.

Liu Cixin, one of China’s best-selling science fiction writers, said that entering outer space means seeing other worlds and he believes he could accomplish his dream of going there within his lifetime.

Liu started to publish his Three-Body trilogy in 2008, namely “Three-Body,” “Dark Forest” and “Dead End,” attracting huge attention from sci-fi fans.

“Mankind’s space exploration is in the initial period and therefore carries lots of risks. But with further scientific development, it could become a normal thing for average citizens. Aeroplane flights within the atmosphere is a good example,” said Liu.

The author predicted that in a century, mankind could set their footsteps on all planets in the solar system and there could be many people living on Mars and the moon.

Heavy industries could be transferred to the geostationary orbits of Earth, many people could work in outer pace and space travel could become as simple as taking an aeroplane flight, he said.

“Outer space will surely become a major part of people’s everyday life, and it won’t be mysterious and remote from us any longer,” added Liu.

Zhao Yang, a deputy research fellow at the China Science and Technology Museum, hailed Tuesday as “the day for space fans.” Zhang majored in space program history and is a big spaceflight and sci-fi fan.

Mankind is terricolous and could feel very uncomfortable while losing gravity in space and meanwhile, long-term space flights could exert huge psychological pressure, Zhao noted.

To ease these issues, he suggested, “We could use real-life simulation and network technologies to let astronauts feel at home and speak with their family back on Earth.”

Zhao believes that in 100 years, humankind will have landed multiple times on Mars and established settlements on the south and north poles of the moon.

Meanwhile, man will have sent artificial-intelligent probes powered with electric rockets and photon-sail technologies on their maiden trips to the star Alpha Centauri 4.2 light-years away. And scientists could reach there in decades and send data back to Earth, the academic said.

“At that time, detectors, wires and cameras could be skins, ears, eyes and the brain of a scientist,” according to Zhao.

“Although I couldn’t go there, my imagination has already been!” he added.

 

 

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