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Designer elaborates on challenges facing Shenzhou-9 mission

(People's Daily Online)

08:07, June 21, 2012

Edited and translated by People's Daily Online

In an interview, the general designer of the Tracking, Telemetry, Command and Communication System of the China Manned Space Engineering Qian Weiping said that, if we say the core mission of the Shenzhou-9 is to realize the rendezvous and docking and withdraw, then the core of the core task is the fight management and control, and everyone is paying close attention to the "flight control."

The Tracking, Telemetry, Command and Communication System is facing three major tests

Reporter: Compared to the Shenzhou-8 mission, in which, "the flight control is the emphasis, key point and difficult point," what has changed in the Shenzhou-9 mission?

Qian: In the Shenzhou-9 mission, the "flight control" or the Tracking, Telemetry, Command and Communication System is still the difficult point and highlight. During the hand-control rendezvous and docking course, the astronaut must manually complete such steps as the translation motion and docking, and all these steps must be done with help of the "flight control."

During the automatic rendezvous and docking course, the remote control needs to guide the spacecraft to gradually move from a place 30,000 kilometers from the Tiangong-1 to a place 52 kilometers below it and several orbital transfers must be completed. It is the most challenging and core part.

This time, astronauts came out of the spacecraft and enter the Tiangong-1, realizing the human's visit in an on-orbit spacecraft for the first time. They also did relevant experiments in the on-orbit spacecraft. All these cannot be done without the effective guarantee from the Tracking, Telemetry, Command and Communication System.

Reporter: In this mission, astronauts will stay a long period on the orbit. Does it have stricter requirements on the system?

Qian: The fact that astronauts will stay on the orbit for a long period indeed has stricter requirements on our system and the requirements are mainly in three areas.

First, the tracking, telemetry, command and communication support must be more reliable. It must be able to guarantee the smoothness of the sky-earth information channel so that information on conditions of the spacecraft and astronauts could be got correctly and timely. It must be able to guarantee the correctness of information processing and display of the flight control center so that the commands will be right and effective.

Second, the rapid emergency responding system must be more reliable and effective. After astronauts enter the orbit, rapid emergency responding modes have increased greatly. For example, cases like fire accident and pressure loss all need the ground to precisely judge malfunctions, rapidly make countermeasures and effectively implement them.

Third, instant communication between astronauts and the group must be more reliable and effective. During the flight on the orbit, the ground and astronauts must communicate with each other widely, the system must provide a reliable information channel and the flight control must have a special supporting team so that the on-orbit astronauts' requirements will be met. It needs a lot of preparations on the ground before the mission.

Two major difficulties to overcome in manual rendezvous and docking

【1】 【2】



Read the Chinese version: 太空“穿针”,“飞控”导引

Source: People's Daily, author: Yu JIanbin, Sun Xiuyan and Li Xiaomei



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