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Shenzhou 8 docks with Tiangong-1

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, CNTV, November 3, 2011
Adjust font size: and CNTV present the whole process of Shenzhou 8's docking with Tiangong-1 or "the Heavenly Palace," the country's first experimental space lab module.

Shenzhou 8 took off at 5:58 a.m. on Nov. 1 from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China, carried into space by a modified version of the Long March CZ-2F rocket.

The spacecraft has to go through a series of swing-bys to catch up with Tiangong-1, which is some 10,000 km away and orbiting the Earth at a height of 343 km.

As of 6 a.m. on Nov. 1, the 8-ton Tiangong 1 target vehicle has been orbiting earth for 32 days, 8 hours and 34 minutes, making 511 laps around the planet.

The rendezvous procedure begins when Shenzhou-8 and Tiangong-1 are 10-thousand kilometers apart. The first step is handled by ground control. They will make several adjustments to the orbit of the craft as it approaches Tiangong-1.

When Shenzhou-8 and Tiangong-1 are less than 50 kilometers from each other, an automatic procedure takes over.

From now on, Shenzhou-8 responds automatically to information provided by the sensory equipment onboard both vehicles.

This phase is the most complicated part of the procedure. Shenzhou-8 will have to decelerate 4 times before rendezvousing with Tiangong-1. This will begin at 5 kilometers from the target, 400 meters, 140 meters and 30 meters away - This should allow Shenzhou-8 to be traveling at just the right speed and at just the right angle.

By this stage, both crafts will be traveling on the same path and at a speed difference of 20 centimeters per second. When they are only 30 centimeters apart, the docking procedure then begins.

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