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|Chinese Space Statio|
Chinese space station - model at the Chinese Pavillion, Hannover Expo 2000.The model indicates a modest station consisting of 2.2 m diameter modules, stretched versions of the orbital module of the Shenzhou.
Credit: © Mark Wade. 18,554 bytes. 539 x 351 pixels.
Class: Manned. Type: Station. Nation: China.
The first model of the planned Chinese 921-2 space station were shown at Expo 2000 at Hannover. This was made up of modules that appeared to be stretched versions of the orbital module of the Shenzhou spacecraft. The model showed a station consisting of:
Overall length of the relatively modest station would be about 20 m, with a total mass of under 40 tonnes. However the large number of unused docking ports indicated substantial room for expansion.
- A node module, about 3 m long and perhaps as little as 2.2 m in diameter, equipped with six docking ports. Attached to two of them were large rotating solar panels (following the same principle as those on the Shenzhou).
- At either end of the node, two long (8 to 10 m x 2.2 to 3.0 m) modules, each equipped with ten docking ports. Attached to these were what appeared to be an airlock or resupply module, a propulsion module, and a two-beam truss with parabolic antennae.
|Chinese Space Statio - Chinese space station - model at the Chinese Pavillion, Hannover Expo 2000.The model also shows docked supply and propulsion (solid?) modules.|
Credit: © Mark Wade. 21,743 bytes. 567 x 357 pixels.
In April 1992 the Chinese leadership decided that an independent manned space program could be afforded. The State Council directed that a manned spacecraft be launched before the new millennium in order to establish China’s place as one of the Great Powers. The Chinese National Manned Space Program was given the designation Project 921. The first portion, 921-1, was to be a manned space capsule with first flight by October 1999. The second stage, 921-2, was to be a manned space station. The third stage, 921-3, was a modern space-earth transportation system, using a delta winged orbiter, to be operational by 2020.
To launch the 921-1 and 921-2 spacecraft a new rocket using liquid oxygen and kerosene was proposed. This would eliminate the toxic propellants used in the existing CZ-2 family of rockets. Clustering of identical first stages would allow heavier payloads, such as the orbital laboratory, to be placed into orbit. The original 921-2 space station module had a total mass of 20 tonnes, a length of 15 m, and a diameter of 4.2 m. It was equipped with a Mir-like five-port docking section at the forward end. This would allow many such units to be assembled into a large space station complex. Span across the solar panels was 22 m.
|921-2 Station/Earth - Project 921-2 space station in orbit.|
Credit: © Mark Wade. 34,047 bytes. 331 x 393 pixels.
The original Project 921 proposal was issued by the Shanghai Astronautics Bureau in October 1993 for inclusion in the Eight and Ninth Five Year Economic Plans. But the Chinese leadership did not approve that part of the program for development of the new liquid oxygen and kerosene rockets. Resources were put instead into the development of large solid motors for military use. Only the 921-1 spacecraft was approved for immediate development. Therefore it would have to be launched on a man-rated modification of the CZ-2E, called CZ-2F. The 921-2 space station module would be launched by an uprated CZ-2E, called CZ-2E(A). This meant the module could only have a mass of 12 tonnes, rather than the 20 tonnes originally planned. Drawings of the CZ-2E(A) indicate this smaller module will have a maximum length of 10 m and maximum diameter of 4.2 m. The model at Hannover indicated a smaller-diameter module within this shroud.
Authorisation to proceed with the 921-2 space station finally came in February 1999, with the first design review in May. A vacuum chamber with a diameter of 7 meters and a height of 12 meters had already been built to test the station. First launch may be expected no earlier than 2002, with a slow rate of assembly of the space station thereafter.
Total Length: 20.0 m. Maximum Diameter: 3.0 m. Total Mass: 40,000 kg.
Project 921-2 Chronology
01 April 1992
Chinese manned space programme authorised
The Chinese leadership decided that an independent manned space program could be afforded. The Chinese National Manned Space Program was given the designation Project 921. The 921-1 manned capsule entered full scale development in 1993 and the 921-2 space station in 1999. Only preliminary work was authorised on the 921-3 reusable spaceplane.
01 January 1993
Development of Shenzhou manned spacecraft begins
The 921-1 manned capsule entered full scale development in 1993 and the 921-2 space station in 1999.
- 424 - Chen Lan, Dragon in Space, . HTML when accessed: http://www.geocities.com/CapeCanaveral/Launchpad/1921/
- 425 - Grondine, Ed, Encyclopedia Astronautica, "Chinese Manned Space Program: Behind Closed Doors", . HTML when accessed: http://solar.rtd.utk.edu/~mwade/articles/chidoors.htm
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Last update 12 March 2001.
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