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Space


Shenzhou-7

China’s Third Manned Spaceflight

Key to the Future Planning

© By Charles P. Vick (All Rights Reserved)

Senior Analyst, Globalsecurity.org

09-21-29/10-07-2008

Disclaimer The opinions and evaluations stated here in are only the authors and cannot be construed to reflect those of any government agency, company, institute or association. It is based on public information, circumstantial evidence, informed speculation, and official PRC Chinese government. As with all data regarding the Chinese space programs, this analysis is subject to revision--and represents a work in progress. It reflects the total open source analysis process and previous studies using the same information analysis process.

Primary Technology Demonstration Flight Plan

The primary purpose of the Shenzhou-7 manned spacecraft mission is a planned 40 minute external of the spacecraft EVA performed on September 27 th, 2008. Because of pre-breathing for the body blood stream purge of nitrogen period and return assimilation from EVA will make the full EVA about 2 hours and 40 minutes (20 minutes outside the spacecraft) duration if not longer. Both space suits took around 12 hours to prepare for the EVA operation on September 26 th. Live broadcast of both the internal and external EVA activities were covered as it flew over mainland China on the 29 long orbital daylight passage. This is another in the series of conservative big steps in China ’s operational confidence building block approach to manned China ’s space developments

A single small monitoring satellite (BX-1) was deployed after the EVA operations by the Yuhangyuan (Taikonauts). The BX-1 was mounted on the front of the orbital module of the Shenzhou-7 spacecraft. It is a 40 cm box like shaped satellite weighing 40 kilograms which is to photograph the Shenzhou-7 spacecraft. On board live TV coverage of the EVA operation was transmitted back to the earth. The EVA was to be conducted during a daylight pass over China with full spacecraft camera coverage as it took place. They utilize a Chinese design EVA spacesuit based on Russian technological experience for the EVA outside the spacecraft while the internal orbital module EVA spacesuit operations utilize a Russian design Orlan spacesuit.

Presumably the Star design bureau of the Moscow region would not sell or give to the Chinese the Orlon space suit design because of technology transfer, business reasons but allowed them to purchase a copy for use on the mission. Demonstration of the Chinese design EVA spacesuits flexibility to allow the Yuhangyuan (Taikonauts) to carry out constructive operations and scientific package retrievals is the limited activity envisioned for this first external EVA operation. EVA spacesuit is valued at $15 million dollars, and weighs 120 kg, but is based on Russian design technology. (One spacesuit was valued at $4.4 million). It is now understood that a total of nine Russian Orlan-M space suites were bought by China from the Star design bureau. The total of nine suite four have been used in the simulator training neutral buoyancy tanks while three were reserved as flight suite to be flown with various missions. The Chinese manned space program apparently also obtained two low pressure suits for launch and training purposes. The Chinese will only be able to utilize the flight suite once since they are not returnable from the present understanding of the limits of the descent modules size restrictions. One spacesuit was valued at $4.4 million.

It is now understood that a total of nine Russian Orlan-M space suites were bought by China from the Star design bureau. The total of nine suites, four have been used in the simulator training neutral buoyancy tanks while three were reserved as flight suite to be flown with various missions. The Chinese manned space program apparently also obtained two low pressure suits for launch and training purposes. The Chinese will only be able to utilize the EVA flight suite once since they are not returnable from the present understanding of the limits of the descent modules entrance size restrictions.

BX-1 Sub-Satellite

The BX-1 was mounted on the front of the orbital module of the Shenzhou-7 spacecraft. It is a 40 cm box like shaped satellite weighing 40 kilograms which is to photograph the Shenzhou-7 spacecraft. This sub-satellite launch from the Shemzhou-7 spacecraft reminds me of an astronaut floating around a spacecraft doing a free of the spacecraft EVA using the MMU he was launched in and naturally in this case the sub-satellite does the same thing. Literally like a free floating astronaut that can thrust himself in a specific direction but his actual flight path will be circular around the spacecraft from which he came. That is following the laws of physics the sub-satellite keeps going in the direction it was initially launched but the extra spring loaded and thruster boosted motion sent into an orbit around the spacecraft that it continues to circle all going in the same in plane direction. In order to be a true ASAT or investigative satellite it must be launched separately from the host spacecraft to do an intercept. This is no where near that operationally in practical terms without a separate service propulsion system. Rendezvous with the spacecraft is already established because of its launch proximity that will continue to circle the remaining orbital module all in the same plane of flight with very little real changes except for the gradual descent back to earth eventually of both masses.

Shenzhou-7 Mission Parameters

China's first single manned spaceflight was in 2003 with Yang Liwei on the Shenzhou-5 spacecraft followed in 2005 with the Shenzhou-6 spacecraft with its two man crew of Fei Junlong , Nie Haisheng and now after three long years in preparation the successfully completed Shenzhou-7 launch. The Shenzhou-7 spacecraft was launched on the Long March-2F three stage booster from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, East Wind launch facility (sometimes referred to in the West as Shuang Cheng-Tzu) in north western Gansu province at 13:10 GMT (21:10 local time) (9:10-10.27 PM Beijing time of the launch window)(14:10 BST)(9:10EDT) on September 25, 2008. The mission with three Yuhangyuan (Taikonauts) on board for the first time return on September 28, 2008 for a planned landing in Inner Mongolia after a (68 hour) 2.83 day duration mission landing around 5:37-5:39 Beijing time or 9:39 GMT. Clearly the successful demonstration of the EVA operations was the prime experiment goal of this very short manned spaceflight. Spacecraft circularization maneuver was scheduled for orbital revolutions 5 with the EVA planned for Saturday give or take 30 minutes (4:30 Beijing time).



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