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Orbiting Spacecraft Works Under Directions from Command Center

Twenty-two minutes after Shenzhou V entered its pre-set orbit Wednesday, it unfolded its solar panels on the first order from the Beijing Aerospace Command and Control Center, Xinhua has learned.


The order was radioed to the spacecraft via Yuanwang-2 measuring vessel in the south Pacific Ocean.


During its 21-hour flight, the spacecraft will receive from the center ten digitized commands detailing instructions on its maneuvers in the outer space.


Liu Chengjun, 31, and Hong Chunhui, 26, sitting in the terminal room shielded with large glasses at the Beijing center, are responsible for the input of these orders. The flight schedule had been put into the computer system of Shenzhou V before the spacecraft took off, but Liu and Hong have to readjust it by deleting the old data and putting in new data in response to real-time changes during the flight, particularly during the first and fifth orbits.


The second and third inputs of the schedule will be done by the measuring and control stations in Kashi in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and Weinan in Shaanxi Province, during the craft's second round of orbital maneuver. This is meant to ensure that in case of need, Shenzhou V can make an emergency return during the third and fourth orbits.


Data sent to the space vehicle during the first eight orbits will ensure that the craft can make an emergency return during each orbit. During the fifth orbit, the spaceship will adjust itself to a circular orbit from the previous elliptical one, with data it receives during the third orbit.


The last two data inputs are key to the safety of the home-coming craft. Commands before and during the return will be given from a measuring and control station in Namibia, when Shenzhou V makes the ninth circle round the Earth.


The last order, from the Weinan station, will amend the return data to ensure accuracy of the spacecraft's landing.


All the data are programed by computer automatically, but Liu and his colleague have to compare them with the flight schedule carefully, in light of the specific timing and sequence of the commands.


(Xinhua News Agency October 15, 2003)



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