New ship will track October spaceflight
Vessel’s advanced system will monitor astronauts’ journey
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.