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3 majors sections of Shenzhou-8 module

11-01-2011 05:42 BJT Special Report: Building Heavenly Palace |

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Differences between Shenzhou-8 and Shenzhou-7

The unmanned spacecraft Shenzhou-8 is set apart from its predecessor, Shenzhou-7, as its equipped with key technologies designed to build China’s forthcoming space station.

Zhang Bonan, the chief designer of Shenzhou-8, says that in order to complete the rendezvous and docking mission, his team has made some significant upgrades.

Major changes in orbital module

The basic function of the orbital module is to serve as a living space for astronauts. But in Shenzhou-8 it has 3 new functions.

Zhang Bonan, Chief Designer of Manned Space Enginner, CASC said "The first new function is the ability to line up the craft for docking. The second is to connect with the space station through a 800-millimetre diameter passage. The third is to provide an installation environment for uploading materials after docking.The new measurement system consists of a wireless measurement sensor and a communication equipement to reach the target spacecraft, Tiangong-1."

Besides the new measurement system, Shenzhou 8 also has a new hatch door on the front of the orbital module. The new hatch door is installed with an active docking mechanism.

The complicated device involves an integral, isomorphic and peripheral docking mechanism. After the docking has been successfully completed, there will be an 800-millimetre cylindrical passage connecting Shenzhou-8 and Tiangong-1.

Zhang Bonan said "Astronauts can pass through this hatch door to enter the space station in the future."

Despite all these new features, Shenzhou 8 weighs almost the same as Shenzhou-7. The design team has removed the extra-vehicular equipment of its predecessor and optimized the arrangement of material and space, especially in the orbital module.

Zhang Bonan said "The orbital module has the space for 300 kilogram goods. With the optimal arrangement, it accommodates a half more goods than before. What’s more, we also try to make equipment much smaller this time."

Strong power supply in propelling module

The propelling module generates power for Shenzhou-8. Shenzhou-7 and Shenzhou-8 are both designed to carry one ton of fuel. Shenzhou 7 didn’t need to be filled to capacity, but in order to complete the rendezvous and docking mission, Shenzhou 8 has been given a full tank. Shenhou 8 is also equipped with 12 more engines than the previous model.

Zhang Bonan said "The 12 new engines are for position adjustment of the spacecraft in the last stage of the docking. We have 4 reverse engines and 8 transitional engines."

The new engines will help Shenzhou 8 move more freely in the space and avoid any collisions with Tiangong-1. The craft has a total of 36 engines of varying sizes.

More improvements in re-entry module

The designing team has upgraded a great deal of equipment in the re-entry module, especially the computer system. With a faster speed, the computer system can process data than ever before to assist the astronauts.

Zhang Bonan said "We upgraded a lot of equipment in the re-entry module, and now all the equipment is made in China."

The parachute system has also been made more reliable. There will be a new parachute attached to the top of the re-entry module in addition to the main parachute, enhancing the stability of the module’s descent. Its also been designed to carry more weight, and is capable of supporting a spacecraft of double the tonnage of Shenzhou-8.


Editor:James |Source: CNTV

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