China’s space race success
BY 花消英气 from 21st Century
Published 2021-11-08
Screen image shows the Shenzhou XIII mission crew at the Tiangong space station. XINHUA

“Five, four, three, two, one, blast off!” At 0:23 on Oct 16, China launched the crewed spacecraft, Shenzhou XIII, at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in Gansu, marking the start of the country’s longest crewed spaceflight.

The spacecraft successfully docked with the space station core module Tianhe, embarking on a six-month journey for the crewmembers: Zhai Zhigang, Wang Yaping and Ye Guangfu.

Denis Simon, executive director of the Center for Innovation Policy at Duke Law in the US, told Xinhua that China’s success in space continues to be impressive. “It is now well on its way to being a leader in space exploration,” he said.

What will happen during the epic mission? The crew has a wide range of assignments, such as performing two to three spacewalks to install a small robotic arm onto a larger one, verifying key procedures and technologies like manual control of the robotic arms, and checking the performance of devices inside the station, according to Lin Xiqiang, deputy director of the China Manned Space Agency, in a news conference on Oct 14.

The mission is a valuable opportunity for China’s science community because it allows the astronauts to carry out large in-orbit experiments requiring a long time and manual manipulation, Pang Zhihao, a former analyst at the China Academy of Space Technology, told China Daily.

The mission will also see the first spacewalk by a Chinese woman: Wang Yaping.

The mother of a 5-year-old girl, Wang is China’s second female astronaut to take part in a spaceflight. She took part in the Shenzhou X mission in June 2013.

Pang said that female astronauts have many advantages over their male peers in extended missions.

“Women are usually more sensitive, attentive and careful in many regards, and normally are better at communicating. These traits are useful assets in extended flights. The presence of a female astronaut usually brings more joy to a demanding mission,” Pang told China Daily, noting he looks forward to Wang’s success.

“When you look out the window, billions of women are looking out that window with you, including me,” retired NASA astronaut Catherine Coleman said as words of encouragement to Wang, CGTN reported.

(Translator & Editor: Li Xinzhu AND Luo Sitian)
Blast off  点火起飞
Core module  核心舱
Install  安装
Verifying  核实
Manipulation  操控
Peers  同行
Attentive  贴心的