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Six phases of first rendezvous and docking

(People's Daily Online)

20:50, November 02, 2011

Edited and Translated by People's Daily Online

Long-distance vectoring phase:

This phase starts when the Shenzhou-8 spacecraft has entered the orbit. Vectored by the Beijing Center, the Shenzhou-8 spacecraft will experience eight orbital transfers and move from the initial orbit into the 330-kilometer near-circular orbit. The spacecraft will reach a position about 52 kilometers under the Tiangong-1 at the preset time and start communicating with the Tiangong-1.

Automatic control phase:

After the Shenzhou-8 spacecraft shifts to the automatic control phase, it will experience the steps of the five-kilometer parking, 400-meter parking, 140-meter parking, 30-meter parking and final contacting with the Tiangong-1 target spacecraft.

Docking phase:

After the Shenzhou-8 has contacted with the Tiangong-1, the two spacecraft will complete four steps of the capturing, buffering, approaching and locking in 15 minutes, and ultimately realize the rigid connection between them and form a combined unit. Up to then, the first mission of the rendezvous and docking is completed. Most steps of the 15 minutes will be completed above China.

Flight of combined unit:

After the first rendezvous and docking is finished, the Tiangong-1 and Shenzhou-8 will fly in a combined unit mode. During this phase, the controls of the combined unit will be carried out through the Tiangong-1, and the Shenzhou-8 will be following the Tiangong-1. The combined unit will fly for about 12 days. Then, the second experiment of the rendezvous and docking will be carried out at a proper time.

Second docking:

The two crafts will depart from each other after the combined spacecraft flies 12 days. Then, Shenzhou-8 spacecraft will leave and stop at a place where is 140 meters away from Tiangong-1 space lab module. Shenzhou-8 will rendezvous and dock with Tiangong-1 for the second time, forming a combined spacecraft again.
This stage aims to test rendezvous and docking technology again as well as the reliability and stability of docking components.

The return of spacecraft:

After departing Tiangong-1, Shenzhou-8 spacecraft will shift from an upside down flight to a normal flight before entering into the stage of normal operations and re-entry. The spacecraft will carry out orbit maintenance according to orbital parameters during the process in order to ensure a right ascending node for its return and safe landing.

After returning into the atmosphere, Shenzhou-8 spacecraft will land in Inner Mongolia.

Thus, the Shenzhou-8 spacecraft will complete its historical mission of China’s first space rendezvous and docking.

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Leave your comment4 comments

  1. Name

PD User at 2011-11-04182.124.132.*
too exicted!proud of our motherland!
ood at 2011-11-03120.165.36.*
No doubt,with China's success to master the advanced docking techniques,then the golden age of the Chinese space exploration is already begun.
PD User at 2011-11-03112.202.182.*
Great achievement by the Chinese people! Hope this augurs well for securing world peace and further advance of humanity!
helen at 2011-11-03175.142.245.*
Congratulations to Motherland China on the successful docking and locking of Tiangong-1 and Shenzhou-8. Watching the event over CCTV-4 and CCTV-9 was really amazing and awesome. I am proud of China and its scientists ....the sky is no longer the limit .....Time now: Beijing Time 02:05 Nov.3

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