As China's third manned spaceship Shenzhou-7 moved into orbit on early Friday, the country has unprecedentedly fulfilled a mission of controlling more than one space vessels in real time, namely the Shenzhou-7 and the lunar probe.
It marks a major breakthrough in China's aerospace control development, said Zhu Mincai, director of the Beijing Aerospace Control Center (BACC), the nerve center of China's outer space program.
Beijing Aerospace Control Center (BACC)
It is historic that BACC is capable of controlling both Shenzhou-7 and the lunar probe which is orbiting the moon 380,000 kilometers above the earth, Zhu said.
"We managed to sort out all the technological problems after careful preparation." he said.
Zhu declared BACC a world's first class control center for its excellence both in real time orbiting control and high speed data processing.
Established in March 1996, BACC is the commanding center of China's manned space program where all the important decisions were made.
The aerospace control, data processing and information exchange activities during China's six previous space missions, a lunar probe mission as well as other satellite launches were also carried out there.
To be able to cope with multiple tasks at the same time, the expert team was divided into four groups with two for manned space, one for the lunar probe and one for the Mars probe, according to Zhu. Each could work independently, he said.
He also told reporters that more than half of the technicians here are aged under 30, and most of them are involved in the manned space mission for the first time. They have to go through rigorous training to qualify for the mission.
"It was our precise calculation that extended the life expectancy of the Chang'e-1, China's first lunar probe launched in 2007. We are confident to fulfill the Shenzhou-7 mission." head of the orbiting department of BACC Tang Geshi told Xinhua.
The center has also developed a software capable of precise calculation of re-entry data of the manned spacecraft, which is the best demonstration of the center's prowess.
That can be proved by the accurate prediction of Shenzhou-5 and 6's landing points, which were only several kilometers away from the preset location.
It also boasted a time difference of 20 seconds between the projected and the actual landing of the Chang'e-1 last year.
To cope with any accidents may happen during China's historic spacewalking, BACC has prepared 230 emergency plans.
Computers and the projecting facilities in the control center are also updated with new ones to ensure the smooth live broadcast of the spacewalk scheduled on Saturday.
"Although we have made thorough preparations, we can never slacken before the mission succeeds." said Zhu.
(Xinhua News Agency September 26, 2008)