September 27, 2011
China Launching Tiangong-1 On Thursday Or Friday
Juiquan Satellite Launch Center reports that last-minute preparations for the launch of the Tiangong-1 spacecraft began on Monday.
These preparations mean that China could soon be completing its first rendezvous and docking mission in space.China Daily reported that crews were putting pipes and cables in place that will be used to inject fuel into the rocket to help carry the Tiangong-1 into outer space.
The Xinhua News Agency reported that the Long March II-F rocket will launch Thursday or Friday to take the Tiangog-1 into orbit.
“The main task of the Tiangong 1 flight is to experiment in rendezvous and docking between spacecraft,” the news agency quoted a Chinese spokesperson about the project.
Chinese scientists also plan to test the long-term unmanned operation and the temporarily manned operation of a space station, as well as carry out medical and technical experiments aboard the Tiangong-1.
"Tiangong-1 is a brand new spacecraft designed by China and is bigger and heavier than the Shenzhou spaceships China had developed as a means of transporting astronauts from the Earth to space," Yang Hong, chief designer of Tiangong-1, told China Daily.
The spacecraft's primary components will include a place astronauts can live and work and will also be equipped with a docking port. Yang said astronauts will have 529 cubic feet to work in.
The spacecraft has two sleeping sections with adjustable lighting systems, exercise equipment, entertainment systems and visual communication devices.
Tiangong-1 weighs 17,000 pounds and is about as tall as a three-story building. It will orbit in a horizontal position and a paint scheme inside will help astronauts maintain a sense of direction, according to China Daily.
The report said the module's inner walls will be in two colors, one associated with the sky and another with the ground.
"This will help astronauts avoid feeling as if they are standing upside down in the microgravity environment," Yang told China Daily.
It is designed to stay in orbit for two years and rendezvous and dock with three different spaceships.
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