New ship will track Oc­to­ber space­flight

Ves­sel’s ad­vanced sys­tem will mon­i­tor as­tro­nauts’ jour­ney

China Daily (USA) - - TOP NEWS - By ZHAO LEI zhaolei@chi­

When the Shen­zhou XI manned space­craft starts its jour­ney next month to meet the Tian­gong II space lab, it will be tracked by China’s lat­est space mon­i­tor and com­mu­ni­ca­tions sys­tem aboard a new track­ing ship.

The fourth-generation, ship­borne space mon­i­tor and com­mu­ni­ca­tions sys­tem, de­vel­oped by China Elec­tron­ics Tech­nol­ogy Group Corp, a State-owned de­fense gi­ant, is car­ried by the Yuan­wang 7 space track­ing ship and is the best of its kind in the world, said com­pany de­sign­ers.

Wang Bin, deputy di­rec­tor of the com­pany’s de­fense prod­ucts, said the sys­tem fea-tures high in­te­gra­tion, re­li­a­bil­ity and sta­bil­ity and was de­vel­oped en­tirely by China. He added that the new sys-tem’s pro­duc­tion cost was only half that of its pre­de­ces­sors.

Chai Lin, a se­nior en­gi­neer at China Elec­tron­ics Tech­nol­ogy Group Corp who took part in the sys­tem’s de­vel­op­ment, said that com­pared with pre­vi­ous ship­borne space mon­i­tor and com­mu­ni­ca­tions sys­tems, the newone is eas­ier to op­er­ate be­cause it has a high level of au­to­ma­tion and in­tel­li­gence.

The Yuan­wang 7 was com­mis­sioned in mid-July to the China Satel­lite Mar­itime Track­ing and Control De­part­ment.

The 220-meter-long, 40-meter-high ves­sel has a dis-place­ment of 30,000 met­ric tons. The ship, which is ca­pa­ble of with­stand­ing strong typhoons, can op­er­ate 100 days at sea, ac­cord­ing to the de­part­ment.

The ves­sel is the most tech­no­log­i­cally ad­vanced space track­ing ship that China has built. It will ex­ten­sively boost the coun­try’s ca­pa­bil­i­ties for space track­ing and control, the de­part­ment said.

China built its first space track­ing ship, the Yuan­wang 1, in the late 1970s, be­com­ing the fourth na­tion in the world, fol­low­ing the United States, the for­mer Soviet Union and France, to op­er­ate such ves­sels.

Since then, the Yuan­wang fleet has car­ried out nearly 100 ex­pe­di­tions and trav­eled mil­lions of nau­ti­cal miles in the Pa­cific, Atlantic and In­dian oceans.

Cur­rently, China has four space track­ing ships in ser­vice — the Yuan­wang 3, Yuan­wang 5, Yuan­wang 6 and Yuan­wang 7.

The Shen­zhou XI manned mis­sion is sched­uled to be­gin in mid-Oc­to­ber, send­ing two as­tro­nauts for a month­long stay in the space lab.

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