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




DRAGON SPACE
Shenzhou 9 Behind the Curtain
by Morris Jones
Sydney, Australia (SPX) Jan 19, 2012


Despite its name, the Tiangong 1 "space laboratory" is more like a small habitation module, and does not carry a lot of laboratory equipment. Nevertheless, scientific work will be carried out. Much of it will probably be physiological studies of the astronauts themselves.

The first crew to fly to a Chinese space laboratory could lift off within three months. The launch of the Shenzhou 9 mission to the Tiangong 1 module could take place at the end of March or early April. Preparations for the flight are well underway, but for the moment, most aspects of Shenzhou 9 remain behind a curtain of secrecy.

There have been some vague media statements about the mission this year. So far, the only new thing we have learned is that the mission will last around 10 days. This is longer than any previous crewed Shenzhou flight.

The mission duration fits in fairly well with predictions by most analysts, who expected a flight of around two weeks. But it's still shorter than the Shenzhou 8 mission, which served as an uncrewed rehearsal for Shenzhou 9. Shenzhou 8 flew to a robotic docking with Tiangong 1 in November last year, and performed two rendezvous and docking tests.

The mission lasted around 17 days. At the time of the mission, this author suggested that Shenzhou 9 would remain aloft for the same time period. We now know that the next mission is shorter by roughly one week! The reduced mission for Shenzhou 9 will probably help to conserve logistics aboard the spacecraft, such as food, water and oxygen.

This revelation of a shorter mission could supply some more insight into the crew. Right now, there has been no official confirmation of the crew size. Some theories suggest there will be two astronauts aboard Shenzhou 9, while others suggest three aboard. This author is now gravitating further towards the three-astronaut plan. The shorter mission would allow a larger crew to fly without straining the logistics.

We also don't know the identities of the crew. The Chinese have probably nominated a "prime" and back-up crew by now, although details haven't been published. It seems likely that all the crew will be members of China's original 1998 class of astronaut trainees, who are getting closer to their use- by dates for age and physical fitness.

We can probably rule out Yang Liwei, China's first astronaut, and Zhai Zhigang, China's first spacewalker, as prime flight candidates. These men are probably considered too valuable to risk on any further space missions. The next crew will probably feature at least two previously unflown "rookie" astronauts, and it's also possible that the entire crew will be "rookies".

Some statements have hinted that the astronauts won't necessarily enter the Tiangong module, but will merely dock with it. This is possible, but unlikely. Such comments probably reflect contingency plans, which will be enacted only in the event of problems. If everything goes normally, the astronauts will enter the laboratory and live aboard it.

We don't know exactly what the astronauts will do on board Tiangong, but we will certainly get to see a lot of it. The interior of the lab has a television camera, and Chinese television will probably devote a lot of time to the mission.

Despite its name, the Tiangong 1 "space laboratory" is more like a small habitation module, and does not carry a lot of laboratory equipment. Nevertheless, scientific work will be carried out. Much of it will probably be physiological studies of the astronauts themselves.

China will need to make some more statements on the mission fairly soon. They should feel confident about discussing the mission in greater detail, as the Shenzhou and Tiangong programs both seem very healthy. The Shenzhou 8 mission was highly successful, and suggests that Shenzhou 9 will also fly well. We await the mission eagerly.

Dr Morris Jones is an Australian spaceflight analyst and author. Email morrisjonesNOSPAMhotmail.com Replace NOSPAM with @ to send email. Dr Jones will answer media inquiries.

.


Related Links
-
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
China launches Ziyuan III satellite
Taiyuan, China (XNA) Jan 10, 2012
China successfully launched the Ziyuan III satellite Monday from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center in northern Shanxi province. The satellite was launched at 11:17 a.m. Monday aboard a Long March 4B rocket. The rocket also carried a satellite from Luxemburg, according to the launch center. div class="BDTX">Source: a href="http://www.chinaview.cn/">Source: Xinhua /a> /div> ... read more


DRAGON SPACE
Russia talks of permanent moon base

Montana Students Pick Winning Names for Moon Craft

Students rename NASA moon probes Ebb and Flow

Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter's LAMP reveals lunar surface features

DRAGON SPACE
'Flaws' blamed for Russian space failure

Lost in simulated space on the way to Mars

US may be behind Mars probe failure: Russia

Opportunity Targets Amboy Rock For Extra Study Ahead of Winter

DRAGON SPACE
US joins effort to draw up space 'code of conduct'

Voyager Instrument Cooling After Heater Turned off

The gadgets which stood out at CES

Smart appliances set to transform the home

DRAGON SPACE
Shenzhou 9 Behind the Curtain

China Plans to Launch 30 Satellites in 2012

China launches Ziyuan III satellite

Spying on Tiangong

DRAGON SPACE
ISS Team Undertakes 'EPIC' Event

Photographing the International Space Station from Your Own Backyard

New crew arrives at international space station

NASA 'Smart SPHERES' Tested on ISS

DRAGON SPACE
SpaceX delays February flight to space stationl

Canaveral has busy 2012 launch schedule

China to launch Bolivian satellite in 2013: Chinese Ambassador

Ariane 5, Soyuz, Vega: Three world-changing launch vehicles

DRAGON SPACE
Re-thinking an Alien World

Scientists Discover a Saturn-like Ring System Eclipsing a Sun-like Star

Planets around stars are the rule rather than the exception

Milky Way teaming with 'billions' of planets: study

DRAGON SPACE
Apple unveils digital textbooks app for iPad

Neutron scattering provides window into surface interactions

Russian Scientists Mock U.S. Radar Theory on Mars Probe

Russia to Test if US Radar Caused Failed Space Probe




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