Friday, September 26, 2008

It will be the first time Chinese yuhangyuan (astronauts) have ventured outside their spacecraft.

Three China astronauts braced for walk.

China's three astronauts have spent their first day in orbit preparing for the mission's spacewalk
A 42-year-old fighter pilot, Zhai Zhigang, is due to carry out the 20-minute manoeuvre at 1630 Beijing Time (0830 GMT) on Saturday.
It will be the first time Chinese yuhangyuan (astronauts) have ventured outside their spacecraft. Their Shenzhou VII capsule soared into orbit on a Long March II-F rocket from Jiuquan spaceport in north-west China. The rocket put the Shenzhou capsule in a near-circular orbit more than 300km above the Earth.

Mr Zhai is joined on the mission by two other "yuhangyuan" - Liu Boming and Jing Haipeng.
Zhang Jianqi, one of the chief engineers for China's space programme, said keeping three men in the spacecraft, and then sending one outside, would be a "big test".
"This is a big technological leap," he told state-run news agency Xinhua.
"The risks are quite high. Sending up three astronauts is a jump both in quantity and quality."
When Mr Zhai carries out his extra-vehicular activity (EVA), he is expected to wear a Chinese-made spacesuit thought to have cost between £5m and £20m ($10m-$40m).

China Space History Events
1958: Base for spaceflights built at Jiuquan, in Gobi desert
April 1970: China launches its first satellite into space
1990-2002: Shenzhou I-IV are launched to develop systems
Oct 2003: The first manned space mission launches on Shenzhou V
Oct 2005: The Shenzhou VI mission takes two men into space
Oct 2007: Chang'e-1 orbiter sent on unmanned mission to the Moon

The yuhanguan will be tethered to the capsule with a cable that provides him with life support and a communications link with the spacecraft.
His back-up, Mr Liu, will monitor the activity, presumably to reel the spacewalker back inside if there is an emergency.
Mr Zhai will retrieve an externally mounted experiment and oversee the release of a satellite.
At the end of the mission, the Shenzhou re-entry capsule will target a landing in north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.
China became only the third nation after the United States and Russia to independently put a man in space when Yang Liwei, another fighter pilot, went into orbit on the Shenzhou V mission in October 2003.
Two years later, Fei Junlong and Nie Haisheng completed a five-day flight on Shenzhou VI.
According to the Associated Press, China's official news agency posted an article on its website prior to the lift-off that was written as if Shenzhou VII had already been launched into space.
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China's Shenzhou VII rocket blasts off
The article reportedly carried a date of 27 September and came complete with a dialogue between the astronauts.
Chinese media report that this latest mission is the "most critical step" in the country's "three-step" space programme.
These stages are: sending a human into orbit, docking spacecraft together to form a small laboratory and, ultimately, building a large space station.
The Shenzhou VIII and IX missions are expected to help set up a space laboratory complex in 2010.
China launched an unmanned Moon probe last year about one month after rival Japan blasted its own lunar orbiter into space.
Story from BBC NEWS:

When China successfully launched its first manned space flight in October 2003, there were some differences of opinion in English-language reports about what to call the pilot, Colonel Yang Liwei.
Ever since the start of space travel we’ve had two words for a space traveller, cosmonaut from the old USSR and the more common US term astronaut. A third began to appear about 1999 in reference to the Chinese space programme: taikonaut, a cross-bred offspring of the Chinese term tai kong, space, with the -naut ending of the other terms (which derives from Greek nautes, a sailor). Taikonaut seems to have been invented by amateur space enthusiasts and taken up by journalists.
However, the usual Chinese term is yuhangyuan, which has been used for many years to refer to participants in the American and Russian space programmes. This has been borrowed by English-language newspapers in the last couple of months or so in reports of the Chinese project. It’s a transliteration of Chinese words that literally mean “universe travel worker”, an individual paid to go into space. Knowing that somehow takes the mystery out of it.
Since astronaut is available, why English-language writers are bothering with the Chinese word isn’t clear (especially when the China Daily and the South China Morning Post both use astronaut in their English-language reports). Perhaps it’s just the restless journalistic quest for novelty. If so, yuhangyuan is likely soon to vanish from English again.
[Many thanks to Martin Turner in Hong Kong for his help.]
As the countdown clock ticks away, best-guesses have set the Chinese launching of their first taikonaut, or yuhangyuan, into orbit on or around Oct. 15, 2003.
[International Herald Tribune, 10 Oct. 2003]
After the launch from the Jiuquan site in Gansu province, the Shenzhou is expected to make more than a dozen orbits of Earth, providing time for a possible spacewalk by the yuhangyuan who by then will not be feeling the weight of their 10kg spacesuits.
[The Guardian, 6 Oct. 2003]

1 comment:

Michael said...

The section beginning" However, the usual Chinese term is yuhangyuan, which has been used for many years to refer to participants in the American and Russian space programmes" has been taken word-for-word from my Web site at You should acknowledge your source, otherwise this is called plagiarism!