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Yuan Wang tracking ship

An ocean going instrumentation ship is a special ship built for the development of intercontinental guided missile, submarine to shore missile and astronautical technology. The Chinese ocean going fleet of survey ships has successively completed intercontinental ballistic missile full range flight test, submarine to shore guided missile underwater launch test, communications satellite launch test and southpole visit, making a great contribution to China's science and technology development as well as weapons and equipment development and test.

The four Yuan Wang tracking ships go to "three major oceans" to support piloted missions. They are assigned to the western Pacific Ocean, southern Pacific Ocean, Indian Ocean west of Australia, and southern Atlantic Ocean to track and control the Shenzhou spacecraft. That was a pattern similar to Russian deployment before piloted flights. Ever since the first launching in November 1999 this has meant Yuan Wang 1 and 2 going into the Pacific, 4 being based in the Indian Ocean with a call at Fremantle in Australia, and Yuan Wang 3 coming to Durban from where she heads around the Cape for the Atlantic coast.

During the 1999 launch of Shenzhou I Yuan Wang 3, which was on station off the Namibia coast, sent the signal to fire the retro rockets and bring the returning capsule safely out of orbit to a landing northwest of Wuhai in Inner Mongolia, after 14 orbits lasting 21 hours.

Yuanwang means "Long View." The Chinese refer to the fleet as "maritime aerospace survey vessels" carrying "transoceanic aerospace observation and control technology." Each ship has an impressive array of dishes and scanners.

These ships were built under the "718 Project." These are the oceangoing aerospace synthetical measuring ships. Type Yuan Wang for observing and measuring the trajectory of long range missile and satellite, the oceangoing salvage ship "J121", and oceangoing exploration ship "Xiang Yang Hong 10". Xu Xueyan, was appointed the chief designer in the 1970s, and was awarded the national special class scientific and Technological Advancement Prize (twice) for the design of Yuan Wang and Xiang Yang Hong 10 in 1985 and national First class Scientific and Technological Advancement Prize in 1985.

In 1965, Premier Chou Enlai proposed the grand concept of China developing its own oceangoing aerospace measuring ships. In 1968, Chairman Mao Zedong personally approved the plan to develop oceangoing aerospace measuring ships. After passing through the storms of the cultural revolution, the Yuanwang 1 and Yuanwang 2 measuring ships were finally put into the water on 31 August 1977 and 01 September 1978, respectively. This marked the end of the period in which China was unable to measure launch vehicle and satellite orbits from outside its national territory.

Yuanwang 1 and Yuanwang 2 carried out measuring assignments for the first time in May of 1980, with complete success. Subsequently, the two ships successfully completed measuring assignments relating to China's own independently designed and developed test communications satellite and the third stage of its launch vehicle. In order to adapt to the needs of international commercial launches, Yuanwang 1 and Yuanwang 2 both underwent technical reconstructions in 1986.

On 18 July 1999 a new space tracking ship, Yuan Wang 4, was delivered to the user, China Satellite Launch and Tracking Control General, by China State Shipbuilding Corporation (CSSC). This is the 4th tracking ship in China's Yuan Wang space tracking fleet. The Yuan Wang 4 tracking ship was converted from the scientific survey ship "Xiang Yang Hong 10" that was launched years earlier.

On 15 December 2003 "Yuanwang" No.2 survey ship docked at the port for space survey ships. Thus all four "Yuanwang" survey ships had returned home after they successfully completed their survey and control mission over Shenzhou V manned spaceship. Since 08 September 2003 this year, "Yuanwang" survey ships have been sent to the designated sea areas in the Pacific Ocean, Atlantic Ocean and Indian Ocean to carry out survey and control missions for Shenzhou V, China's first manned spaceship.

The four "Yuanwang" survey ships successfully sailed across the Taiwan Strait, Malacca Strait and Cape of Good Hope, covering about 60,000 nautical miles. During this period, crewmembers as well as scientific personnel on the ships overcame various difficulties and successfully completed the survey, remote measurement, remote control, earth-sky data and picture transmission and voice communication for Shenzhou V spaceship during the phases of operation, reentry and orbiting of Shenzhou V. The ships accurately sent 212 remote orders to the spaceship, which was an important contribution to the success of China's first manned space flight.

After going through five times of practical test of the space flight, the survey and control capabilities, the accuracy of survey and control, automation level and reliability of these survey ships have been remarkably improved and the overall survey and control technologies on the sea have been on a par with the world advanced level.

Since its establishment, the "Yuanwang" survey fleet sailed to the three major oceans for 44 times, covering a distance of over 800,000 nautical miles. So far the fleet has carried out more than 50 survey and control missions for space flight with a success rate of 100%.

Yuan Wang 3

In the mid sixties, in accordance with the development plan of ocean going instrumentation ship assigned by Commission of Science and Technology for National Defense (COSTND), the overall design departments of the Seventh MMB, the Seventh Academy of the Sixth MMB and test bases of the Commission of Science and Technology for National Defense concerned organized a " three in one" concept study team to conduct studies of the survey' concepts at sea and survey control system of this ship.

At the same time, the Seventh Academy organized a "Six Four workteam" made up of personnel from its ten institutes, and under the direction of Xu Xueyan, with Shangguan Shipan, Wang Lichun and others of the test bases to conduct concept studies of the instrumentation ship. Through many years' effort in investigations, tests, studies, finally the overall instrumentation ship concept, and the technical concepts of measurement and control, communication, navigational positioning, salvage and meteorological systems were defined.

In 1974, the units responsible for the development began their work in ship overall design and equipment development. In the same year, the No.708 Institute, Jiangnan shipyard and the test bases once again organiseed a "three in one" design team under the direction of Shu Fuliang to conduct the technical design of the ship. In May 1975, after the approval of the technical design by the leader group of the ship, Jiangnan shipyard under the direction of Xu Mingliang began the ship's detail design.

The ship's endurance is great, the resistance to wind and seakeeping is good; it has a length of 191 meters, a height of 38 meters, a breadth of 22 meters, with a nine story hold equivalent to a 14 story high building; on the deck 50 antennae are installed; full load displacement of the ship is 20,000 tons; it has an average speed of 18 knots. The ship is equipped with high precision measurement and .control systems, mufti means, mufti network, long distance, all weather communication system and advanced composite navigational positioning system and meteorological system. The electric power consumed by this ship is equal to that of a medium city with a population of 300,000.

This ship is China's first generation of composite tracking surveying station at sea, the development work was an extremely complicated and large system engineering task, which combined many new scientific and technological achievements of China. Many critical technical problems were solved in the process of overall design, construction, and equipment development, installation and debugging.

In order to ensure the ship stability in sea storm so as to ensure the measurement precision, a three level stability system was adopted. The first level stability was the inherent stability of the ship, in the ship two pairs of large sized retractable anti rolling fins and a super large single plate bilge keel were installed. The drift and yaw were controlled coordinately by the active rudder and bow thruster to ensure that the measurement apparatus were stabilised within the limits of operational sighting field. The second level stability, based on the first level stability of the ship, adopted a planar coordinate stability system. By putting the ship's residual roll angle through the stable platform system, the stability precision of the measurement apparatus could be ensured to reach a precision level in angular minutes.

The third level stability consisted of a servo system connected to the measuring radar, remote measurement and dual frequency speed measurement equipment. The servo system used the signals supplied by the computing center to automatically control the azimuth and pitching angle of the equipment, so the stability precision reached the level of angular seconds. By all these measures, the aim of capturing, continuous tracking, and measuring of the target were attained.

The tracking measurement of flying guided missile put forth very high requirement on the measuring ship, a very small longitudinal deflection of the ship's hull would bring a large error to the measurement. To solve this problem, the No.708 Institute, on the one hand, adopted special measures on the structural design and arrangement of the hull to increase the hull rigidity and reduce deformation of the hull over waves while not increasing the structural weight of the hull; on the other hand, put on the ship an optical bending deformation measuring apparatus developed by the Changchun Optical Precision Mechanism Research Institute to measure and correct the inevitable residual deformation, with the result that the precision measuring equipment such as laser cinema theodolite could be secured in a place where the hull deformation reached the requirement of 1/1,000 of hull length.

On the instrumentation ship there were a large number of precision electronic and optical equipment, which required small vibration and low noise. The No.708 Institute adopted in its overall design the steam turbine produced by Shanghai Steam Turbine Plant as prime mover, designed a new type propeller and took some measures on structures to satisfy the requirement of small vibration. In general arrangement, the machinery and boiler spaces were placed at the rear of the mid ship section of the ship, while the measuring equipments were placed in the mid ship section or the forward of the mid ship section of the ship so as to put them far apart. Double doors and materials such as foam plastics were used to reduce noise. Through measurements, it was found that the noise of the machinery room and other rooms actually reached the standard.

The instrumentation ship was equipped with more than 50 antennae, and more than 1,000 electronic equipments. So many equipments with wide frequency bands and big transmitting power congested in one ship, electro magnetic interference was a serious problem. The Overall Design Institute of Measurement and Communication of COSTND together with No.708 Institute and Jiangnan Shipyard took measures in antenna area division arrangement and electromagnetic compatibility technology; No.704 Institute, Cable Research Institute and Cable Production Plant helped to measure the cable coupled interference data to develop the high frequency assembled in group cables, classify cables in layers and bundles according to the different kinds of frequency bands and lay cables in special cable conduits to check coupled interference; Changzhou 2nd Radio Factory trial produced a shipboard power supply filter of good quality to check conduction interference. In addition, many shielding measures were adopted to check radiation interference, all these served to better solve the electromagnetic compatibility problem.

The Division of System Engineering was responsible for the navigational positioning system. The means adopted for positioning were the inertial navigation system developed under the guidance of Zhang Zhongshun of No.707 Institute, the global, all weather, high precision satellite navigation system developed under the guidance of Ma Yeqin of No. 1020 Institute and the astronomical theodolite developed under the guidance of Yang Ming of No.717 Institute. The composite positioning system composed of these three means was connected to a computer, and utilizing the high precision location data fed by satellite navigation and the astronomical theodolite to check the zero drift accumulated in the inertial navigation system during the long period of voyage, thus the locating precision of this ship was raised to higher level.

Communication Division of Headquarters of the General Staff was responsible for the communication system of the instrumentation ship. The ship was equipped with a complete communication system composed of equipment developed by No.722 Institute and related institutes and factories of the Ministry of Electronics, i.e. long range, high power short wave communication; ultra long wave communication; relay communication; satellite communication and digital transmission; frequency shift and phase shift telegraph; telex and secret telephone etc., and also a time clock system based on an atomic frequency standard clock. This served to ensure the fast, all weather transmission and communication of a great quantity of data and information between ship and ship, ship and shore, and ship and air.

The Meteorological Bureau of Headquarters of the General Staff was responsible for the system. The ship was equipped with a weather forecast system composed of meteorological radar, air sounding instrument, helium high altitude balloon release apparatus, satellite cloud chart receiver, radio meteorological communication equipment and conventional meteorological equipment to provide high altitude meteorological parameters at sea in time.

The Division of Voyage Logistics of the Navy Headquarters was responsible for this system. The ship was equipped with salvage and life saving motor boat, hydraulic foldable arm crane, helicopter take off and landing platform and its control tower, and corresponding navigational and communication equipment. The ship can retrieve and house the data capsule of missile test, and rescue the astronauts.

In accordance with the measurement and control concept developed and designed by the Overall Institute of Measurement and Communication of COSTND, the ship was equipped with a system composed of a single pulse precision measurement radar developed by No. 14 Institute of the Tenth Academy, laser cinema theodolite developed by the Institute of Optical Machinery of Changchun and Shengyang Automation Institute, double frequency speed measuring apparatus developed by No.504 Institute, and the composite remote measurement equipment developed by No.704 Institute of the Ministry of Astronautics, and a central computing system with a speed of one million instructions per second developed by No.15 Institute of the Tenth Academy and Changsha Industrial College, thus the problem of tracking, measurement, capture and guidance at sea was solved with a high probability.

Beginning from 1975, the instrumentation ship entered the phase of construction, trial, equipment installation, debugging, check and calibration. In accordance with the requirement of the CCCPC Special Commission, Jiangnan shipyard, No.708 Institute, the Overall Institute of Measurement and Communication and the Instrumentation Ship Base completed in 1979 the work of construction, equipment installation, debugging and sea trial and test.

During this period, under the direction of Li Qi of the Coordination Group of the COSTND stationing in Shanghai, the Sixth MMB together with the departments concerned in Shanghai, organized Jiangnan shipyard, No.708 Institute, Instrumentation Ship Base, and the naval representatives in the factory to conduct five major tests of technical coordination, gearwheel grind in, real ship performance check and correction test, to check the performance of the measuring equipment.

Through one year long test period the ship passed 816 items of special inspection, 353 items of military inspection, all reached the design requirement. In the beginning of 1980, the ship conducted system debugging, the overall ship calibration combined with flight check, and finally through flight test at sea and demonstration off shore, the systems and the equipment of the ship, under the unified control of the central computer, coordinated and worked well, thus all were ready to accept task assignment.

In 2016, Yuanwang ships completed 14 major scientific research and experiment tasks, including maiden flights of the Long March-7 and the Long March-5, and space journeys of the Tiangong-2 space lab and the Shenzhou-11 manned spacecraft. Yuanwang space tracking ships, which follows the progress of satellites and other space-bound craft, will carry out 19 maritime space monitoring missions in 2017, according to the maritime satellite measurement and control authority.

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