Yuan Wang tracking ship

The Yuanwang-1 and Yuanwang-2 ships were China's first-generation space tracking vessels, which first entered service in late 1970s, making China the fourth country to master space tracking technology after the United States, Russiaand France. 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%.

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