Tiangong program

Last updated

Diagram of Tiangong-1 Tiangong 1.svg
Diagram of Tiangong-1

The Tiangong program (Chinese :天宫空间站工程; pinyin :Tiāngōng kōngjiānzhàn gōngchéng) [1] [2] is China's space program to create a modular space station, comparable to Mir. This program is independent and unconnected to any other international space-active countries. [3] The program is part of the China Manned Space Program began in 1992. The core module, the Tianhe ("Harmony of the Heavens") was finally launched on 29 April 2021 marking the start of the Tiangong Space program deployment.

Contents

China launched its first space laboratory, Tiangong-1, on 29 September 2011. Following Tiangong-1, a more advanced space laboratory complete with cargo spacecraft, dubbed Tiangong-2, was launched on 15 September 2016. The first module of the 12 part new series of Tiangong space station launched on 29 April 2021.

The project will culminate with the Tiangong space station, which consist of a 22.6-ton core module and cargo transport craft, with two more major research modules to be launched in 2022. [4] It supports three astronauts for long-term habitation. [5]

Background

Yang Liwei, first Chinese astronaut, the third country to launch a crewed spaceflight. Yang Liwei.jpg
Yang Liwei, first Chinese astronaut, the third country to launch a crewed spaceflight.
Chinese space food Chinese Astronaut Food.JPG
Chinese space food

After the United States threatened to use nuclear weapons during the Korean War, [6] [7] Mao Zedong decided that only a nuclear deterrent of its own would guarantee the security of the newly founded PRC. Thus, Mao announced his decision to develop China's own strategic weapons, including associated missiles. After the launch of mankind's first artificial satellite, Sputnik 1 by the Soviet Union on 4 October 1957, Mao decided to put China on an equal footing with the superpowers ("我们也要搞人造卫星"), using Project 581 with the idea of putting a satellite in orbit by 1959 to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the PRC's founding. However, it would not be until 24 April 1970 that this goal would become a reality.

Mao and Zhou Enlai began the PRC's crewed space program on 14 July 1967. [8] China's first crewed spacecraft design was named Shuguang-1 (曙光一号) in January 1968. [9] Project 714 was officially adopted in April 1971 with the goal of sending two astronauts into space by 1973 aboard the Shuguang spacecraft. The first screening process for astronauts had already ended on 15 March 1971, with 19 astronauts chosen. The program was soon cancelled due to political turmoil.

The next crewed space program was even more ambitious and was proposed in March 1986 as Project 863. This consisted of a crewed spacecraft (Project 863-204) used to ferry astronaut crews to a space station (Project 863-205). Several spaceplane designs were rejected two years later and a simpler space capsule was chosen instead. Although the project did not achieve its goals, it would ultimately become the 1992 Project 921, encompassing the Shenzhou program, the Tiangong program, and the Chinese space station.

On the 50th anniversary of the People's Republic of China's founding, China launched the Shenzhou 1 spacecraft on 20 November 1999 and recovered it after a flight of 21 hours. The country became the third country with a successful crewed space program by sending Yang Liwei into space aboard Shenzhou 5 on 15 October 2003 for more than 21 hours. It was a major success for Chinese space programs.

Project history

In 1999, Project 921-2 was finally given official authorization. Two versions of the station were studied: an 8-metric ton "space laboratory" and 20-metric ton "space station".[ citation needed ] In 2000, the first model of the planned space station was unveiled at Expo 2000 in Hanover, Germany. This was made up of modules derived from the orbital module of the Shenzhou spacecraft. Overall length of the station would be around 20 m, with a total mass of under 40 metric tons, with possibility of expansion through addition of further modules.[ citation needed ]

In 2001, Chinese engineers described a three-step process toward the realization of Project 921. The original target date for the fulfillment of the project was 2010.[ citation needed ]

Originally, China planned to simply dock Shenzhou 8 and Shenzhou 9 together to form a simple space laboratory. However, it was decided to abandon that plan and launch a small space laboratory instead. In 2007, plans for an 8-metric ton "space laboratory" being launched in 2010 under the designation of Tiangong-1 were made public. This would be an eight-ton space laboratory module with two docking ports. Subsequent flights (Shenzhou 9 and Shenzhou 10) will dock with the laboratory. [10]

On 29 September 2008, Zhang Jianqi (张建启), Vice Director of China crewed space engineering, declared in an interview of China Central Television (CCTV), it is Tiangong-1 that will be the 8-ton "target vehicle", and Shenzhou 8, Shenzhou 9, and Shenzhou 10 will all be spaceships to dock with Tiangong-1 in turn. [11] On 1 October 2008, Shanghai Space Administration, which participated in the development of Shenzhou 8, stated that they succeeded in the simulated experiments for the docking of Tiangong-1 and Shenzhou 8. [12]

In September 2010, the central government formally approved the implementation of China's manned space station project, and plans to build a large-scale, long-term manned national space laboratory around 2020. [13]

On 16 June 2012, Shenzhou 9 was launched from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in Inner Mongolia, China, carrying a crew of three. The Shenzhou craft successfully docked with the Tiangong-1 laboratory on 18 June 2012, at 06:07 UTC, marking China's first crewed spacecraft docking. [14]

On 11 June 2013, China launched Shenzhou 10 with a crew of three headed for the Tiangong-1. [15]

Tiangong-2 space laboratory launched on 15 September 2016. [16] [17] [18] This was first crewed with Shenzhou 11 which launched on 17 October 2016 (16 October UTC) from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center and docked two days later. [16]

The full 60-metric ton space station will support three astronauts for long-term habitation. The core module, the Tianhe ("Harmony of the Heavens"), launched on 29 April 2021. [19] The Tianhe module was first crewed with the Shenzhou 12 mission which launched and docked on 17 June 2021. [20]

Details

Space laboratory phase

Chinese efforts to develop low Earth orbit space station capabilities will begin with a space laboratory phase, with the launch of three Tiangong test vehicles (later reduced to two). [5]

Tiangong-1 "target vehicle"

Drawing of Shenzhou docked to Tiangong-1 Tiangong 1 drawing.png
Drawing of Shenzhou docked to Tiangong-1

The Chinese docking target consists of a propulsion (resource) module and a pressurized module for experiments, with a docking mechanism at either end. The docking port of the experiment section supports automated docking. [21] Its length is 10.5 m (34 ft), diameter is 3.4 m (11 ft), [5] with a mass of 8,000 kg (18,000 lb). Launched on 29 September 2011, it was intended for short stays of a crew of three. [21] [10] [11] The second docking port, on the propulsion module, was kept screened from press photography inside and outside the module. It re-entered and burned up in the atmosphere on 2 April 2018, at 00:16 UTC. [22]

Tiangong-2 "space laboratory"

Model of a Shenzhou docked to a Tiangong Model of the Chinese Tiangong Shenzhou.jpg
Model of a Shenzhou docked to a Tiangong

A second and a third test station were originally planned to precede the eventual modular station. These would be 14.4 m (47 ft) long, with a diameter of 4.2 m (14 ft), and weigh up to 20,000 kg (44,000 lb). [3] The second one would provide life support for a crew of 2 for 20 days, and the third one a crew of 3 for 40 days. [5] However, all the objectives of these two stations were later merged into one project, [23] and the size scaled down to less than 10,000 kg (22,000 lb).

The resulting Tiangong-2 space laboratory was launched on 15 September 2016. [24] The station made a controlled reentry on 19 July 2019 and burned up over the South Pacific Ocean. [25]

Tiangong-3

A third space station proposed but later cancelled in favor of advancing to the new large modular station. [26]

Tiangong space station

China plans to build the world's third multi-module space station, to follow Mir and the International Space Station (ISS). [4] [3] This was dependent upon the date of OPSEK's separation from the ISS but after a statement in September 2017, the head of Roscosmos Igor Komarov said that the technical feasibility of separating the station to form OPSEK had been studied and there were now "no plans to separate the Russian segment from the ISS". [27]

The previous separate components will be integrated into a space station, arranged as: [5]

The larger station will be assembled in 2021–2022 and have a design lifetime of at least ten years. The complex will weigh approximately 60,000 kg (130,000 lb) and will support three astronauts for long-term habitation. [5] The public is being asked to submit suggestions for names and symbols to adorn the space station and cargo spacecraft. "Considering past achievements and the bright future, we feel that the crewed space program should have a more vivid symbol and that the future space station should carry a resounding and encouraging name", Wang Wenbao, director of the office, said at the news conference. "We now feel that the public should be involved in the names and symbols as this major project will enhance national prestige, and strengthen the national sense of cohesion and pride", Wang said. [28]

The core module, the Tianhe ("Harmony of the Heavens"), launched on 29 April 2021. [19]

International co-operation

After the success of China's crewed space launch, a Chinese official expressed interest in joining the International Space Station program. [33] In 2010, European Space Agency ESA Director-General Jean-Jacques Dordain stated that his agency was ready to propose to the four other partners (CSA, JAXA, NASA, and Roscosmos) that China, India, and South Korea be invited to join the ISS partnership. [34] China has indicated a willingness to cooperate further with other countries on crewed exploration. [35]

See also

Related Research Articles

The space program of the People's Republic of China is directed by the China National Space Administration (CNSA). Its technological roots can be traced back to the late 1950s, when China began a ballistic missile program in response to perceived American threats. However, the first Chinese crewed space program only began several decades later, when an accelerated program of technological development culminated in Yang Liwei's successful 2003 flight aboard Shenzhou 5. This achievement made China the third country to independently send humans into space. Plans currently include a permanent Chinese space station by the end of 2022, crewed expeditions to the Moon, Mars and interplanetary missions to explore the Solar System and beyond.

Tiangong space station Chinese space station in low Earth orbit

Tiangong, officially the Tiangong space station, is a space station being constructed by China in low Earth orbit between 340 and 450 km above the surface. Being China's first long-term space station, it is the goal of the "Third Step" of the China Manned Space Program. Once completed, Tiangong will have a mass between 80 and 100 t, roughly one-fifth the mass of the International Space Station and about the size of the decommissioned Russian Mir space station.

Shenzhou 8 2011 Chinese uncrewed spaceflight to Tiangong-1

Shenzhou 8 was an uncrewed flight of China's Shenzhou program, launched on 31 October 2011 UTC, or 1 November 2011 in China, by a Long March 2F rocket which lifted off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center.

Shenzhou 9 2012 Chinese crewed spaceflight to Tiangong-1

Shenzhou 9 was the fourth crewed spacecraft flight of China's Shenzhou program, launched at 18:37:24 CST, 16 June 2012. Shenzhou 9 was the second spacecraft and first crewed mission and expedition to dock with the Tiangong-1 space station, which took place on 18 June. The Shenzhou 9 spacecraft landed at 10:01:16 CST on 29 June in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. The mission's crew included the first Chinese female astronaut, Liu Yang. The next mission was Shenzhou 10, which launched on 11 June 2013.

Shenzhou 10 2013 Chinese crewed spaceflight to Tiangong-1

Shenzhou 10 was a crewed spaceflight of China's Shenzhou program that was launched on 11 June 2013. It was China's fifth crewed space mission. The mission had a crew of three astronauts: Nie Haisheng, who was mission commander and previously flew on Shenzhou 6; Zhang Xiaoguang, a former PLAAF squadron commander who conducted the rendezvous and docking; and Wang Yaping, the second Chinese female astronaut. The Shenzhou spacecraft docked with the Tiangong-1 trial space laboratory module on 13 June, and the astronauts performed physical, technological, and scientific experiments while on board. Shenzhou 10 was the 2nd and final expedition and mission to Tiangong-1 in this portion of the Tiangong program. On 26 June 2013, after a series of successful docking tests, Shenzhou 10 returned to Earth.

China Manned Space Program Spaceflight programme in China

The China Manned Space Program, also known as Project 921 is a space program developed by the People's Republic of China and run by the China Manned Space Agency (CMSA), designed to develop and enhance human spaceflight capabilities for China. It was approved on 21 September 1992 and been in operation ever since.

Tiangong-1 Chinese prototype space station in orbit from 2011 to 2018

Tiangong-1 was China's first prototype space station. It orbited Earth from September 2011 to April 2018, serving as both a crewed laboratory and an experimental testbed to demonstrate orbital rendezvous and docking capabilities during its two years of active operational life.

Tiangong-2 Chinese space station from 2016 to 2019

Tiangong-2 was a Chinese space laboratory and part of the Project 921-2 space station program. Tiangong-2 was launched on 15 September 2016. It was deorbited as planned on 19 July 2019.

Tiangong-3 Cancelled Chinese space station module

Tiangong-3 was a proposed Chinese space station, part of the Tiangong program. The China National Space Agency (CNSA) was originally expected to launch Tiangong-3 around 2015, following the launch of the Tiangong-2 test laboratory, originally planned for 2013. The goals for the Tiangong-2 and Tiangong-3 laboratories were eventually merged, and the latter was therefore not ordered.

Wang Yaping Chinese taikonaut

Wang Yaping is a Chinese military transport pilot and taikonaut. Wang was the second female taikonaut selected to the People's Liberation Army Astronaut Corps, the second Chinese woman in space, and the first Chinese woman to perform a spacewalk.

<i>Tianhe</i> core module Component of Chinas space station

Tianhe, officially the Tianhe core module, is the first module to launch of the Tiangong space station. It was launched into orbit on 29 April 2021, as the first launch of the final phase of Tiangong program, part of the China Manned Space Program.

Laboratory Cabin Module

The Laboratory Cabin Module (LCM) is a modular component of the Tiangong space station. Based on the Tiangong-2 experimental space module, the LCMs complete the third and final stage of Project 921, the CNSA's program to establish a permanent Chinese space station. While China's small unmanned spacecraft can provide platforms for zero gravity and exposure to space for scientific research, the LCMs offer a long term environment combined with ready access by human researchers over periods that far exceed the capabilities of Shenzhou spacecraft. Operations will be controlled from the Beijing Aerospace Command and Control Center in China.

Tianzhou (spacecraft)

The Tianzhou is a Chinese automated cargo spacecraft developed from China's first prototype space station Tiangong-1 to resupply its modular space station. It was first launched on the Long March 7 rocket from Wenchang on April 20, 2017 and demonstrated autonomous propellant transfer.

Mengtian module

Mengtian, officially the Mengtian laboratory cabin module, is a major module of the Tiangong space station. It will be the second Laboratory Cabin Module launched, and the second module to extend the existing Tianhe core module of the station.

Tianzhou 2 2021 Chinese resupply spaceflight to the Tiangong Space Station

Tianzhou 2 was a mission of the Tianzhou-class unmanned cargo spacecraft. The launch took place at 29 May 2021, 12:55:29 UTC. The spacecraft successfully docked with the Tiangong space station later on the same day.

Shenzhou 13 2021 Chinese crewed spaceflight to the Tiangong Space Station

Shenzhou 13 was a Chinese spaceflight launched on 15 October 2021 at 16:23 UTC. The flight marked the eighth crewed Chinese spaceflight and the thirteenth flight of the Shenzhou program. The spacecraft carried three People's Liberation Army Astronaut Corps (PLAAC) taikonauts on the second flight to the Tianhe core module, the first module of the Tiangong space station. The launch of the three-person crew with a Long March-2F launch vehicle took place from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center.

Shenzhou 12 2021 Chinese crewed spaceflight to the Tiangong Space Station

Shenzhou 12 was a Chinese spaceflight launched on 17 June 2021. The flight marked the seventh crewed Chinese spaceflight and the twelfth flight of the Shenzhou program. The spacecraft carried three members of the People's Liberation Army Astronaut Corps (PLAAC) on the first flight to the Tianhe core module, the first module of the Tiangong space station. This was the first Chinese manned spaceflight since Shenzhou 11 in 2016.

Tianzhou 4 2022 Chinese resupply spaceflight to the Tiangong Space Station

Tianzhou 4 is the fourth mission of the Tianzhou-class unmanned cargo spacecraft, and the third resupply mission to Tiangong Space Station carrying 5 tons of cargos and 1 ton of propellant. It is the largest load capacity cargo spacecraft that is on active duty. It launched on 9 May 2022, docking successfully with the Tiangong space station at the aft port 6 hours after launch. Like previous Tianzhou missions, the spacecraft launched from the Wenchang Satellite Launch Center in Hainan, China on a Long March 7 rocket.

Shenzhou 14 2022 Chinese crewed spaceflight to the Tiangong Space Station

Shenzhou 14 is a Chinese spaceflight that launched on 5 June 2022 at 02:44 UTC. The flight marks the ninth crewed Chinese spaceflight and the fourteenth flight of the Shenzhou program. The spacecraft carries three People's Liberation Army Astronaut Corps (PLAAC) taikonauts on the third flight to the Tianhe core module, the first module of the Tiangong space station. The launch of the three-person crew with a Long March-2F launch vehicle took place from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center.

Wentian module

Wentian, officially the Wentian laboratory cabin module, is a major module of the Tiangong space station. It is the first Laboratory Cabin Module launched, and the first module to extend the existing Tianhe core module of the station. It was launched into orbit from the Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Site on 24 July 2022, successfully docking with Tianhe at 19:13 UTC on the same day. On 25 July 2022 at 02:03 UTC, the crew of Shenzhou 14 opened the hatch and entered the module for the first time.

References

  1. "China launches first section of its massive space station". China Daily. 29 April 2021. Archived from the original on 29 April 2021. China's most adventurous space endeavor, the multimodule space station, named Tiangong, or Heavenly Palace, will be mainly composed of three components
  2. "China launches space station core module Tianhe". Xinhua. 29 April 2021. The Tianhe module will act as the management and control hub of the space station Tiangong, meaning Heavenly Palace
  3. 1 2 3 Branigan, Tania; Sample, Ian (26 April 2011). "China unveils rival to International Space Station". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 April 2011. China often chooses poetic names for its space projects, such as Chang'e – after the moon goddess – for its lunar probes; its rocket series, however, is named Long March, in tribute to communist history. The space station project is currently referred to as Tiangong, or "heavenly palace".
  4. 1 2 Barbosa, Rui (1 March 2021). "China preparing to build Tiangong station in 2021, complete by 2022". NASASpaceFlight.com. Retrieved 2 March 2021.
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 6 David, Leonard (7 March 2011). "China Details Ambitious Space Station Goals". SPACE.com. Retrieved 9 March 2011. China is ready to carry out a multiphase construction program that leads to a large space station around 2020. As a prelude to building that facility, China is set to loft the Tiangong-1 module this year as a platform to help master key rendezvous and docking technologies.
  6. Yue, Dongxiao (1998). "Korean War FAQ". Century China. Retrieved 12 March 2016.
  7. Cooper, Roxanne (9 October 2010). "US repeatedly threatened to use nukes on N. Korea: declassified documents". The Raw Story. Retrieved 12 March 2016.
  8. "首批航天员19人胜出 为后来积累了宝贵的经验". tech.tom.com (in Chinese). TOM Online. 16 September 2005. Archived from the original on 22 December 2005. Retrieved 24 July 2008.
  9. Chang, Ying, ed. (5 October 2005). "[焦点访谈]第一艘无人试验飞船发射成功―回首航天路(四". cctv.com (in Chinese). China Central Television. Retrieved 2 August 2007.
  10. 1 2 Clark, Stephen (29 September 2011). "Chinese rocket successfully launches mini-space lab". Spaceflight Now. Retrieved 19 October 2011.
  11. 1 2 "我国将于2010年-2011年发射小型空间站" [China will launch a small space station in 2010–2011] (in Chinese). Sina News. 29 September 2008. Retrieved 30 December 2020.
  12. "神八空间模拟对接初步成功" [Simulated docking of Shenzhou 8 has succeeded] (in Chinese). Sina News. 1 October 2008. Retrieved 30 December 2020.
  13. "集大众智慧于探索融中华文化于飞天". 5 November 2013. 最终决定沿用“天宫”作为载人空间站的整体名称,但后面不再加序号 (The final decision was to use "Tiangong" as the overall name of the manned space station, but without the serial number at the end)
  14. Amos, Jonathan (18 June 2012). "Shenzhou-9 docks with Tiangong-1". BBC News. Retrieved 21 June 2012.
  15. Harwood, William (11 June 2013). "China launches fifth manned space mission". CBC News. Retrieved 30 December 2020.
  16. 1 2 "China's Shenzhou 11 blasts off on space station mission". BBC News. 16 October 2016. Retrieved 17 October 2016.
  17. de Selding, Peter B. (20 June 2016). "China prepares assembly of its space station, invites collaboration through U.N." Space News. Paris. Retrieved 22 September 2016.
  18. "Chinese Astronauts Dock with Tiangong-2 Space Lab". 19 October 2016. Retrieved 19 October 2016.
  19. 1 2 Jones, Andrew (2 October 2019). "This Is China's New Spacecraft to Take Astronauts to the Moon (Photos)". SPACE.com. Retrieved 1 November 2019.
  20. Clark, Stephen (17 June 2021). "Chinese astronauts enter Tiangong space station for first time". Spaceflight Now. Retrieved 18 June 2021.
  21. 1 2 "Tiangong I". cmse.gov.cn. China Manned Space Engineering Office. Archived from the original on 8 May 2011. Retrieved 26 October 2011.
  22. Thompson, Avery (19 September 2016). "China Confirms Its Space Station Is Falling Back to Earth". Popular Mechanics. Retrieved 30 December 2020.
  23. "脚踏实地,仰望星空——访中国载人航天工程总设计师周建平". cmse.gov.cn (in Chinese). China Manned Space Engineering Office. 28 April 2016. Retrieved 22 April 2017.
  24. "China to launch Tiangong-2 and cargo spacecraft in 2015". GB Times. 13 June 2013. Archived from the original on 18 June 2013. Retrieved 16 June 2013.
  25. Liptak, Andrew (20 July 2019). "China has deorbited its experimental space station". The Verge. Retrieved 21 July 2019.
  26. ""天宫二号"总设计师:不再有天宫三号 五年后建成空间站". 22 November 2017. “天宫二号”后,不再开发“天宫三号”,中国将直接进入空间站时代,空间站预计2022年建成 (After "Tiangong-2", no longer develop "Tiangong-3", China will directly enter the era of space station, the space station is expected to be completed in 2022)
  27. Foust, Jeff (25 September 2017). "International partners in no rush regarding future of ISS". SpaceNews. Retrieved 28 December 2018.
  28. 1 2 3 Xin, Dingding (26 April 2011). "Countdown begins for space station program". China Daily. Retrieved 28 April 2011.
  29. "China launches first Tiangong space station module" . Retrieved 1 May 2021.
  30. Barbosa, Rui C. (19 April 2017). "Tianzhou-1 – China launches and docks debut cargo resupply". NASASpaceFlight.com. Retrieved 5 May 2018.
  31. Clark, Stephen (3 March 2016). "China to launch new space lab later this year". Spaceflight Now. Retrieved 8 March 2016.
  32. Jones, Morris (3 March 2014). "The Next Tiangong". Space Daily. Retrieved 30 December 2020.
  33. Tong, Zongli, ed. (16 October 2007). "李学勇:中国希望参加国际空间站计划". People's Daily (in Chinese). Archived from the original on 15 November 2017.
  34. de Selding, Peter B. (3 February 2010). "ESA Chief Lauds Renewed U.S. Commitment to Space Station, Earth Science". SpaceNews. Retrieved 30 December 2020.
  35. "Cooperation & Exchange". cmse.gov.cn. China Manned Space Engineering Office. Archived from the original on 8 May 2011.