It was reported that Shanghai Space Industry Bureau Director General Yuan Jie revealed Monday that Shanghai will be responsible for the space rendezvous and docking technology for China's manned space flight. At present, the first buffering experiment for the technology has achieved success.
After Shenzhou VI's return, China's manned space program has entered the second stage, which includes three steps: first is astronauts' walk out of the spaceship, which will be completed by Shenzhou VII; second is space rendezvous and docking, which is the goal of Shenzhou VIII; third is to build a space laboratory.
Space rendezvous and docking means two spacecrafts such as spaceships and space shuttles rendezvous on space orbit and integrate as a whole. This is the precondition to realize equipping, recycling, supplying, maintaining and astronaut exchanging in the space.
Experts said that during the space docking process, buffering is the first issue to be solved. Stability should be guaranteed during docking as sharp shake will affect the stance of spacecrafts on the orbit. In this buffering experiment, scientists used capsule engineering to dispel the most impact during docking and control the collision within the acceptability of the capsule.
How to make the docking flawless is another thorny problem. When docking, both spacecrafts are flying at super high speeds. Although the relative velocity is not high during the docking, it is still quite difficult to realize accurate docking in a complicated space environment packed with high-density plasma, free oxygen and ultraviolet radiation.
(chinanews November 8, 2005)