At 23:08 on November 29, China Standard Time, a Long March 2F carrier rocket holding the Shenzhou-15 manned spacecraft was ignited and dispatched from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the Gobi Desert, Inner Mongolia. About 10 minutes later, Shenzhou-15 separated from the rocket and successfully entered its scheduled orbit.
After the spacecraft successfully achieved autonomous rapid rendezvous and docking with the China Space Station (CSS), astronauts including Fei Junlong, Deng Qingming and Zhang Lu, entered the orbital module from the spacecraft return vessel. At 07:33 on November 30, the Shenzhou-15 crew met with Shenzhou-14 astronauts Chen Dong, Liu Yang and Cai Xuzhe, who were sent to the CSS in June. These two crews will perform the first handover at the space station.
Six astronauts will work and live together in the space station for about five days. During this period, the two crews will carry out various extravehicular activities and complete tasks such as installation, commissioning, maintenance and repair of equipment both inside and outside the space modules.
Zhang Yi, the deputy director of design for the GNC subsystem of the Shenzhou manned spacecraft, under the Fifth Academy of China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp (CASC), introduced that during the mission, two Shenzhou manned spacecrafts simultaneously docked at the CSS for the first time. The two spacecraft carried out information transmission, ventilation and heat exchange, grid-connected electricity supply to the space station at the same time.
During the rotation of the two groups, the space station will transmit telemetry to the two spacecrafts through different docking lines to ensure the uniqueness and accuracy of information transmission between the two spacecrafts. The space station system will provide ventilation and thermal support to the two manned spacecrafts at the same time, and the air supply volume will be reasonably distributed according to the different thermal environments of the two ships, and it can be adjusted to different grades according to needs. While the two ships are docked at the same time, a coordinated and matched emergency evacuation strategy has been formulated to ensure the astronauts’ safety.
The Shenzhou-15 manned mission is the last in the construction phase of the CSS. After the rendezvous and docking of the spacecrafts and the station, the CSS will have a unique combination of the Tianhe core module, Wentian module, Mengtian experimental module, two manned spacecrafts and a cargo spacecraft, with a total mass of nearly 100 tons.