Orbital Focus - International Spaceflight Facts and Figures
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China's Piloted Space Programme

Tyneside, UK
2022 Aug 16
Tuesday, Day 228

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Chinese Space Station

China's long term station is in orbit. It will be expanded over coming years with support from Tianzhou supply vehicles and the crew-carrying Shenzou spacecraft.

Tianhe, the core module, was launched 2021 May 29 and the first visitor, in the form of Tianzhou 2, arrived three weeks later.
track map
This page chronicles activities conducted in support of building the station, putting crews aboard and keeping them supplied.

The plot follows the changing apogee and perigee of the station as the orbit is boosted to counteract air drag.

Orbital manoeuvres are also used to adjust the ground track and optimise the ascent, or descent, trajectory of a visiting vehicle.

It is updated in real time so it may be worth bookmarking this page in order to monitor the station's orbit dynamics.

On-orbit Activities

The diary that follows is a list of the main activities surrounding the missions. The newest entry is shown first.

2021 Jun 16

Launch time announced as Jun 17, 01:22 UTC for a fast track transfer (a few hours).

Crew announced as commander - Nie Haisheng (flew on Shenzhou 6 and Shenzhou 10), with Liu Boming (Shenzhou 7) and Tang Hongbo. The mission is set for three months duration. The backup crew consists of Zhai Zhigang, Wang Yaping and Ye Guangfu.

Objectives for the crew described as:

First, they will operate and manage the complex, including the in-orbit test of the Tianhe module, validation of the recycling and life support system, testing and operation training of the robotic arm, as well as management of materials and waste.

Second, they will move, assemble and test extravehicular spacesuits and perform two extravehicular activities for work including assembling an extravehicular toolbox, lifting the panoramic camera and installing extended pump sets.

Third, they will carry out space science experiments and technology experiments, as well as public outreach activities.

Fourth, they will manage their own health through daily life care, physical exercise, and regular monitoring and assessment of their own health status.

2021 Jun 13

track mapNOTAMs (Aeronautical safety warnings) issued for launch of Shenzhou 12 on June 17.

Areas covered include an emergency landing zone in case the crew needs to return to Earth at the end of the first orbit of the Earth.

More detail can be found in the zarya.info blog.

On the day, launch is expected at approximately 01:20 UTC.

2021 Jun 9

CZ 2F with Shenzhou 12 rolled out to launch pad at Jiuquan SC.

2021 Jun 4

Orbit raised slightly to 376 x 386 km.

2021 May 29 - Tianzhou 2 launch and docking

track mapTianzhou 2 launched from Wenchang SC at 12:55 UTC using CZ 7.

It docks with the rear port of Tianhe at 21:01 UTC after an autonomously-controlled flight.

About 25 minutes later, the pair overfly the Yuan Wang 5 tracking ship recently arrived on station to monitor the upcoming launch of Fengyun 4B from Xichang SC.

2021 May 29

Further trimming of Tianhe orbit to 369 x 376 km sets up the precise ground track needed for Tianzhou 2 rendezvous.

2021 May 27

Orbit of Tianhe raised to stabilise rendezvous ground track for May 29.

2021 May 23

Orbit of Tianhe lowered to set-up rendezvous ground track for May 29.

2021 May 19 & 20 - Tianzhou 2 launch attempts

On both days, there was a countdown towards launch but the event was curtailed, reportedly due to a lack of pressure in a system providing liquid oxygen to operate launch vehicle sub-systems.

2021 May 12

Orbit of Tianhe adjusted to 360 x 385 km to set up ground track for planned Tianzhou 2 launch on May 19.

2021 Apr 29 - Launch of Tianhe

track mapTianhe launched from Wenchang SC at 03:23 UTC using CZ 5B.

Intial orbit of 171 x 382 km, 41°.5 inclination is raised at first apogee to 284 x 384 km.

Later in the day the orbit is further raised to 353 x 385 km to await Tianzhou 2.

Page Created - 2021 Jun 7
Entries and plot updated in real time

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