Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
. 24/7 Space News .




DRAGON SPACE
Man Versus Machine on Shenzhou
by Morris Jones
Sydney, Australia (SPX) Jun 24, 2012


"Yes, this was a successful outcome, but it still wasn't perfect. It's true that automatic docking will always have the potential to outperform astronauts in some tasks. The final approach wasn't as steady and true as it could have been, even though it was eventually corrected."

The first attempt at a manual docking by a Chinese spacecraft has been a success, but it still raises issues to be explored. The Shenzhou 9 spacecraft successfully undocked from the Tiangong 1 space laboratory and withdrew a few hundred metres under automatic control.

After a short solo flight, Shenzhou 9 was slowly piloted towards Tiangong by astronaut Liu Wang. The docking was broadcast live on China Central Television, suggesting that China was fairly confident of a successful outcome.

China can be justifiably proud of this achievement. The mission of Shenzhou 9 has steadily generated a growing list of major achievements, but this has been the most complex.

Manual docking is probably the most risky and dangerous feat that can be attempted in human spaceflight, short of landing a spacecraft on a runway or the surface of an alien world. China got it right on the first attempt, with little evidence of trouble.

Yes, this was a successful outcome, but it still wasn't perfect. It's true that automatic docking will always have the potential to outperform astronauts in some tasks. The final approach wasn't as steady and true as it could have been, even though it was eventually corrected.

This suggests that the manual controls aren't quite as responsive as they should be. Or perhaps Liu wasn't quite at his best. Soon after the docking, this author also watched as Liu Yang, China's first woman astronaut, prodded Liu Wang on the thigh to draw his attention to a control panel. Liu Wang then reached out with a stick to push a button.

The nature of the display and the button were not visible on television, but it seems that Liu Wang wasn't quite keeping pace with events at a critical stage in the mission. This raises another question. Is Liu Wang suffering mildly from space sickness, and has this affected his performance?

China's official state media will probably give no clues. But the manual docking has highlighted the rivalry between man and machines in space. Automatic docking remains the preferred choice for the Chinese space program, with manual docking as a backup option when automatic systems fail.

There will be a need to practice more manual dockings in the future, but they will probably remain of secondary importance to automatic systems. So far, machines are winning this contest.

Dr Morris Jones is an Australian space analyst and writer. Email morrisjonesNOSPAMhotmail.com. Replace NOSPAM with @ to send email.

.


Related Links
China National Space Administration
The Chinese Space Program - News, Policy and Technology
China News from SinoDaily.com






Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News





DRAGON SPACE
Above and below, Chinese science soars
Beijing (XNA) Jun 25, 2012
Huge industrial and commercial benefits seen in space and deep-sea programs China has just expanded its horizons, high in the sky and deep in the sea, with two scientific achievements. The country's submersible Jiaolong traveled to a record depth of 6,965 meters on June 19 and its fourth manned spacecraft, Shenzhou IX, was launched on June 16 to pave the way for a future space station. ... read more


DRAGON SPACE
Researchers Estimate Ice Content of Crater at Moon's South Pole

Researchers find evidence of ice content at the moon's south pole

Nanoparticles found in moon glass bubbles explain weird lunar soil behaviour

UA Lunar-Mining Team Wins National Contest

DRAGON SPACE
Extensive Water in Mars Interior

Orbiter Out of Precautionary 'Safe Mode'

Researchers calculate size of particles in Martian clouds of CO2 snow

ESA tests self-steering rover in 'Mars' desert

DRAGON SPACE
Complex Challenges Solved In Tech Meetings For Commercial Crew Program

Boeing Completes Key Reviews of Space Launch System

Two NASA Visualizations Selected for Computers Graphics Showcase

NASA technology-sharing portal announced

DRAGON SPACE
Man Versus Machine on Shenzhou

Above and below, Chinese science soars

China conducts first manual space docking

That's No Lab, It's a Space Station

DRAGON SPACE
New Space Station Crew Confirmed

Spacewalk to work on ISS scheduled

Did You Say 1.2 Billion Particles Per Month?

Varied Views from the ISS

DRAGON SPACE
USAF officials announce milestone Atlas V launch

EVE Underflight Calibration Sounding Rocket Launch

ILS and AsiaSat Announce a New Contract for an ILS Proton Launch

A milestone in launcher preparations for Arianespace's fourth Ariane 5 flight of 2012

DRAGON SPACE
Forgotten Star Cluster Useful For Solar Science And Search for Earth Like Planets

SciTechTalk: Quick, name the planets!

Where Are The Metal Worlds And Is The Answer Blowing In The Wind

Metal-poor stars are rich with small planets

DRAGON SPACE
IT security problems shift as data moves to 'cloud'

Samsung eyes 10 mn mark for Galaxy S3 by end of July

ISS to Build Up Meteorite Defenses

Smartphones put writing on the wall for paid texts




The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement