China’s manned space station project is planned to enter the construction stage later this year, with several key accomplishments set for completion. Six major missions, including two laboratory cabin modules (LCM) Wentian and Mengtian, the Shenzhou Manned Spacecraft and the Tianzhou Cargo Spacecraft, will be finished, according to Zhang Bainan, Deputy Chief Designer of China’s Manned Space Program, as reported by China Youth Daily on Friday.
In addition, China will in 2022 realize the first combined flight with six spacecrafts, the first six-month-stay by astronauts, and the first time for two crews to simultaneously stay in orbit.
Zhang Zhongyang, General Manager of the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), pointed out that in 2021, the key technology verification of China’s space station was basically completed, and five launch missions were a complete success. The Tianhe core module was successfully launched, and the on-orbit assembly and construction of the space station was carried out. The Tianzhou-2 unmanned cargo spacecraft was launched into orbit, and docked with Tianhe core module by rapid rendezvous and docking for the first time, completing the transportation of extravehicular spacesuits and astronaut consumables.
In 2021, the Shenzhou 12 mission carried the first astronauts – Nie Haisheng, Liu Boming and Tang Hongbo – to the country’s space station and returned safely. The Tianzhou 3 cargo spacecraft was launched into orbit to complete the material transportation of the subsequent astronauts. Shenzhou 13 then realized the radial rendezvous and docking of manned spacecraft for the first time, and the second batch of astronauts – Zhai Zhigang, Wang Yaping and Ye Guangfu – of the space station arrived for a long-term stay of six months.
In addition, Zhou Jianping, Chief Designer of China’s Manned Space Program, added that the Shenzhou13 astronauts have been staying in orbit for nearly 140 days and are currently in good condition. They will return to Earth next month.
China’s Manned Space Program was established with the approval of the central government on September 21, 1992. The manned spacecraft system, cargo spacecraft system, space laboratory system, space station system and optical cabin system in the program are all developed by the Fifth Academy of CASC. The space station mission planning includes three stages: key technology verification, construction and operation.