Project 921-2

Project 921-2

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Tiangong is a space station
Space station
A space station is a spacecraft capable of supporting a crew which is designed to remain in space for an extended period of time, and to which other spacecraft can dock. A space station is distinguished from other spacecraft used for human spaceflight by its lack of major propulsion or landing...

 program of the People's Republic of China
People's Republic of China
China , officially the People's Republic of China , is the most populous country in the world, with over 1.3 billion citizens. Located in East Asia, the country covers approximately 9.6 million square kilometres...

, with the goal of creating a third generation space station, comparable to MIR
Mir
Mir was a space station operated in low Earth orbit from 1986 to 2001, at first by the Soviet Union and then by Russia. Assembled in orbit from 1986 to 1996, Mir was the first modular space station and had a greater mass than that of any previous spacecraft, holding the record for the...

. This program is autonomous and unconnected to any other international space-active countries. The program began in 1992 as Project 921-2.
, China is moving forward on a large multiphase construction program that will lead to a large space station around 2020.

China launched a small 8.5 ton space laboratory called Tiangong 1
Tiangong 1
Tiangong-1 is a Chinese space laboratory module, and is an experimental testbed to demonstrate the rendezvous and docking capabilities needed to support a space station complex. Launched unmanned aboard a Long March 2F/G rocket on 29 September 2011, it is part of the Tiangong program, which aims...

 on September 29, 2011. Following Tiangong 1
Tiangong 1
Tiangong-1 is a Chinese space laboratory module, and is an experimental testbed to demonstrate the rendezvous and docking capabilities needed to support a space station complex. Launched unmanned aboard a Long March 2F/G rocket on 29 September 2011, it is part of the Tiangong program, which aims...

, a more advanced space laboratory complete with cargo ship called Tiangong 2
Tiangong 2
Tiangong-2 will be a Chinese space laboratory, part of the Project 921-2 space station program. Tiangong-2 is expected to be launched by the China National Space Agency in 2013 to replace the prototype module Tiangong-1, which was launched in September 2011....

 will be built. Tiangong 3
Tiangong 3
Tiangong-3 will be a Chinese space station module, part of the Tiangong space station program. The China National Space Agency is expected to launch Tiangong-3 around 2015, following the launch of the Tiangong-2 laboratory module in 2013...

  will continue to develop these technologies. The project will culminate with a large orbital station, which will consist of a 20-ton core module, 2 smaller research modules, and cargo transport craft. It will support three astronauts for long-term habitation
Space habitat
A space habitat is a space station intended as a permanent settlement rather than as a simple waystation or other specialized facility...

 and is scheduled to be completed just as the International Space Station
International Space Station
The International Space Station is a habitable, artificial satellite in low Earth orbit. The ISS follows the Salyut, Almaz, Cosmos, Skylab, and Mir space stations, as the 11th space station launched, not including the Genesis I and II prototypes...

 is currently scheduled to be retired.

Project History


In 1999, Project 921-2 was finally given official authorization. Two versions of the station were studied: an 8-metric ton "space laboratory" and 20-metric ton "space station".

In 2000, the first model of the planned space station was unveiled at Expo 2000
Expo 2000
Expo 2000 was a World's Fair held in Hanover, Germany from Thursday, June 1 to Tuesday, October 31, 2000. It was located on the Hanover fairground , which is famous for hosting CeBIT...

 in Hanover
Hanover
Hanover or Hannover, on the river Leine, is the capital of the federal state of Lower Saxony , Germany and was once by personal union the family seat of the Hanoverian Kings of Great Britain, under their title as the dukes of Brunswick-Lüneburg...

. This was made up of modules derived from the orbital module of the Shenzhou spacecraft. Overall length of the station would be around 20 m, with a total mass of under 40 metric tons, with possibility of expansion through addition of further modules.

In 2001, Chinese engineers described a three-step process toward the realization of Project 921. The original target date for the fulfillment of the project was 2010.
  • First, crewed flight itself (Phase 1); this successfully occurred in 2003.
  • Second, the orbiting of a space laboratory (Phase 2, a scaled back version of the initial model) that would only be crewed on a short-term basis and left in an automated mode between visits.
  • The third phase would involve the launch of a larger space laboratory, which would be permanently crewed and be China's first true space station
    Space station
    A space station is a spacecraft capable of supporting a crew which is designed to remain in space for an extended period of time, and to which other spacecraft can dock. A space station is distinguished from other spacecraft used for human spaceflight by its lack of major propulsion or landing...

     (Phase 3).


Originally, China planned to simply dock Shenzhou 8
Shenzhou 8
Shenzhou 8 was an unmanned flight of China's Shenzhou program, launched on October 31, 2011 UTC, or November 1 in China, by a modified Long March 2F rocket which lifted off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center....

 and Shenzhou 9
Shenzhou 9
Shenzhou 9 is a planned, probably manned flight of China's Shenzhou program that is scheduled for launch in March or April 2012, following the unmanned Shenzhou 8 mission in 2011. The aim of the mission will be to perform a docking with the Tiangong 1...

 together to form a simple space laboratory. However, it was decided to abandon that plan and launch a small space laboratory instead. In 2007, plans for an 8-metric ton "space laboratory" being launched in 2010 under the designation of Tiangong 1
Tiangong 1
Tiangong-1 is a Chinese space laboratory module, and is an experimental testbed to demonstrate the rendezvous and docking capabilities needed to support a space station complex. Launched unmanned aboard a Long March 2F/G rocket on 29 September 2011, it is part of the Tiangong program, which aims...

 were made public. This would be an eight ton space laboratory module with two docking ports. Subsequent flights (Shenzhou 9
Shenzhou 9
Shenzhou 9 is a planned, probably manned flight of China's Shenzhou program that is scheduled for launch in March or April 2012, following the unmanned Shenzhou 8 mission in 2011. The aim of the mission will be to perform a docking with the Tiangong 1...

 and Shenzhou 10
Shenzhou 10
Shenzhou 10 is a planned manned spaceflight of China's Shenzhou program that is scheduled for launch in 2012. This conventional Shenzhou will carry a crew of three astronauts...

) will dock with the laboratory.

On September 29, 2008, Zhang Jianqi , Vice Director of China crewed space engineering, declared in an interview of China Central Television
China Central Television
China Central Television or Chinese Central Television, commonly abbreviated as CCTV, is the major state television broadcaster in mainland China. CCTV has a network of 19 channels broadcasting different programmes and is accessible to more than one billion viewers...

  it is Tiangong 1
Tiangong 1
Tiangong-1 is a Chinese space laboratory module, and is an experimental testbed to demonstrate the rendezvous and docking capabilities needed to support a space station complex. Launched unmanned aboard a Long March 2F/G rocket on 29 September 2011, it is part of the Tiangong program, which aims...

 (i.e. not Shenzhou 8) that will be the 8-ton "target vehicle", and Shenzhou 8, Shenzhou 9
Shenzhou 9
Shenzhou 9 is a planned, probably manned flight of China's Shenzhou program that is scheduled for launch in March or April 2012, following the unmanned Shenzhou 8 mission in 2011. The aim of the mission will be to perform a docking with the Tiangong 1...

 and Shenzhou 10
Shenzhou 10
Shenzhou 10 is a planned manned spaceflight of China's Shenzhou program that is scheduled for launch in 2012. This conventional Shenzhou will carry a crew of three astronauts...

 will all be spaceships to dock with Tiangong 1
Tiangong 1
Tiangong-1 is a Chinese space laboratory module, and is an experimental testbed to demonstrate the rendezvous and docking capabilities needed to support a space station complex. Launched unmanned aboard a Long March 2F/G rocket on 29 September 2011, it is part of the Tiangong program, which aims...

 in turn.

At 1 Oct. 2008, Shanghai Space Administration, which participate in the development of Shenzhou 8, stated that they have succeeded in the simulated experiments for the docking of Tiangong 1 and Shenzhou 8.

Another 8-metric ton "space laboratory" will be launched sometime between 2012 and 2017.

The full 60-metric ton "space station" has been delayed to ~2020-2022, and will support three astronauts for long-term habitation
Space habitat
A space habitat is a space station intended as a permanent settlement rather than as a simple waystation or other specialized facility...

.

Space laboratory phase


Chinese efforts to develop LEO space station capabilities will begin with a space laboratory phase, with the launch of three Tiangong space modules.

Tiangong 1 "target vehicle"


The Chinese docking target consists of a propulsion (resource) module, and a pressurized module for experiments, with a docking mechanism at either end. The docking port of the experiment section supports automated docking. It's length is 10.5 metres (34.4 ft), diameter is 3.4 metres (11.2 ft), with a mass of 8000 kilograms (17,637 lb). Launched on September 29, 2011, it is intended for short stays of a crew of three.

Tiangong 2 "space laboratory"


The Chinese Space Lab will be launched in 2013.
Configuration is as follows:
  • Crew Size: 3, with 20 days of life support resources.
  • Length: 14.4 metres (47.2 ft)
  • Maximum Diameter: 4.2 metres (13.8 ft)
  • Mass: 20000 kilograms (44,092.5 lb)
  • Two docking ports

Tiangong 3 "space station"



, the Chinese Space Lab is planned to be launched in the 2015 timeframe.
  • 40 days of living conditions for three astronauts
  • Evaluate regenerative life-support technology, and verify orbital replenishment of propellant and air.
  • 20 to 22 metric ton core module — 18.1 metres (59.4 ft) long and a maximum diameter of 4.2 metres (13.8 ft) in diameter—with a multi-docking berthing mechanism allowing for at least 4 craft to dock with it.
  • Two research and experimentation modules.

Large orbital station


China plans to build what may be only the world's third multi-module space station.
The previous separate components will be integrated into a space station, arranged as:
  • Core Cabin Module (CCM) - based on the Tiangong 3 "space station" and analogous to the Mir Core Module
    Mir Core Module
    Mir , DOS-7, was the first module of the Soviet/Russian Mir space station complex, in low Earth orbit from 1986 to 2001. Generally referred to as either the core module or base block, the module was launched on 20 February 1986 on a Proton-K rocket from LC-200/39 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome...

    . The 18.1-meter-long core module, with a maximum diameter of 4.2 meters and a launch weight of 20 to 22 tons, will be launched first.
  • Laboratory Cabin Module I (LCM-1) and Laboratory Cabin Module II (LCM-2) - based on Tiangong 2 "space laboratory". Each laboratory module is 14.4 meters long, with the same maximum diameter and launch weight of the core module.
  • Shenzhou - crewed vessel
  • A cargo craft based on Tiangong-1 that will have a maximum diameter of 3.35 meters and a launch weight less than 13 tons, to transport supplies and lab facilities to the space station.


The larger station will be assembled in 2020-2022 and have a design lifetime of ten years. The complex will weigh approximately 60000 kilograms (132,277.4 lb) and will support three astronauts for long-term habitation. The public is being asked to submit suggestions for names and symbols to adorn the space station and cargo ship. "Considering past achievements and the bright future, we feel that the crewed space program should have a more vivid symbol and that the future space station should carry a resounding and encouraging name," Wang Wenbao, director of the office, said at the news conference. "We now feel that the public should be involved in the names and symbols as this major project will enhance national prestige, and strengthen the national sense of cohesion and pride," Wang said.

International co-operation


After the success of China's crewed space launch, a Chinese official expressed interest in joining the International Space Station program.
In 2010 ESA Director-General Jean-Jacques Dordain stated his agency was ready to propose to the other 4 partners that China, India and South Korea be invited to join the ISS partnership.China has indicated a willingness to cooperate further with other countries on manned exploration.

External links