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Shenzhou in orbit
The Shenzhou manned spacecraft has been developed for the China Manned
Space Programme (Project 921 for three roles! a standalone spacecraft for
manned orbital "ight# a transport vehicle to ferr$ astronauts to and from the
space station# and an emergenc$ escape craft for the space station% &t is an
'arth(orbiting) capsule(t$pe) one(mission) non(reusable spacecraft) *ith a ne*
e+ample built for each "ight% The spacecraft is capable of carr$ing up to three
astronauts to "$ in lo* 'arth orbit (,'- for up to . da$s%
The prime contractor for the manned spacecraft *as China /cadem$ of Space
Technolog$ (C/ST) or the 0
/cadem$) *hich *as responsible for the design)
testing and fabrication of the spacecraft% Shanghai /cadem$ of Space"ight
Technolog$ (S/ST) or the 1
/cadem$ *as responsible for the spacecraft2s
service module and po*er) propulsion and doc3ing s$stems% -ther contractors
included /cadem$ of /erospace Solid Propulsion Technolog$ (emergenc$
launch escape s$stem) 4eijing &nstitute of Space Medicine and 'ngineering
(life support and environment control) and China 'lectronics Technolog$
Corporation (telemetr$ and communications s$stems%
The spacecraft *as modelled after the 5ussian So$uz(TM spacecraft) but has
been developed and built using Chinese technologies% ,i3e the So$uz(TM)
Shenzhou consists of three modules! a for*ard c$lindrical orbital module) an
aerod$namic re(entr$ module) and an aft c$lindrical service module% / launch
escape to*er is attached to the front(end of the vehicle during the launch and
ascent stages% The cre* sta$s inside the habitable re(entr$ module during
launch and re(entr$) and controls the spacecraft from there% The orbital
module) *hich is also habitable) provides additional habitable space for the
cre* during orbital "ight%
Shenzhou . in orbit) ta3en b$ the 4an+ing 1 micro(satellite it released moment
The spacecraft is launched atop the Chang 6heng(27 (C6(27 launch vehicle
from the 8iu9uan Satellite ,aunch Centre) and operates in a :;: 3m near(
circular orbit inclined at ;2%0< to the 'arth e9uator% =hen the mission is
completed) the orbital and service modules are discarded) *hile the heat(
shield(protected re(entr$ module carr$ing the cre* ma3es an unpo*ered
ballistic descent through the atmosphere and then deplo$s parachutes and
landing roc3ets for a soft(landing%
The spacecraft is nearl$ 9 m in total length) *ith a gross launch mass of 1)1:>
3g and an orbital mass of .)1>> 3g% &t consists of 1: sub(s$stems! space
frame) guidance navigation and control (?@C) data management) telemetr$
and communications) thermal control) propulsion) po*er) mission pa$load)
environment control and life support s$stem ('C,SS) cre*) instruments and
lightening) emergenc$ rescue) and re(entr$ and landing%
Standard variant Shenzhou spacecraft *ith a doc3ing mechanism) hatch and
rendezvous antennas located at the front
Orbital Module
The orbital module is used to carr$ 3e$ e9uipment including a space toilet)
and also provides additional habitable space for the cre* to live and conduct
scientiAc e+periments during orbital "ight% The module is 2%1> m in length)
2%20 m in diameter) *ith an orbital mass of 1)0>> 3g% &t has an internal volume
of 1 cubic metres) *hich is evidentl$ larger than that of the So$uz(TM (B cubic
=hen boarding the spacecraft at the launch pad) the cre* enters the orbital
module through a large c$lindrical hatch on the side of the module) and then
descends into the re(entr$ module via a second sealable hatch (B0 cm in
diameter% The hatch bet*een the t*o modules remains sealed oC during the
launch and ascent stages of the "ight) and is opened b$ the cre* after the
spacecraft is in orbit% There is a third) smaller c$lindrical hatch on the side of
the orbital module in some earl$ Shenzhou missions) possibl$ used as an
*indo* for 'arth(observation pa$load%
The Shenzhou spacecraft *ith three diCernt t$pes of orbital module! (left
earl$ solo("ight variant *ith a second set of po*er and propulsion s$stems#
(middle 'D/ variant *ith an airloc3# (right production variant *ith a doc3ing
The Shenzhou orbital module can be conAgured according its diCerent
missions% 'arl$ solo orbital "ight missions featured an orbital module e9uipped
*ith its o*n independent propulsion) "ight control) communication s$stems
and an additional pair of smaller solar panel *ings% The orbital module in this
conAguration *as capable of remaining in orbit for autonomous "ight for
another si+ months after being discarded) to serve as a platform for scientiAc
e+periment or 'arth(observation missions% /dditional mission pa$load could
be attached e+ternall$ to the front of the module%
The Shenzhou . mission in 2>>1 featured an orbital module doubled as an
airloc3 and storage for t*o 'D/ spacesuits% The space*al3ing astronauts
e+ited and returned to the spacecraft vehicle via the large c$lindrical hatch on
the side of the orbital module) *hile the hatch connecting to the re(entr$
module remained sealed oC throughout the 'D/%
7rom the Shenzhou 1 mission on*ards) the Shenzhou spacecraft has been
built in its standard production conAguration) *hich has a doc3ing mechanism)
hatch) and rendezvous antennas located at the front(end of the orbital
module% /n opticalEradar(based automated doc3ing s$stem on the module
guides the spacecraft to manoeuvre to*ards the target spacecraft vehicle% The
cre* remains inside the re(entr$ module throughout the doc3ing process) *ith
the hatch to the orbital module sealed oC%
7or 'D/ and doc3ing missions) the orbital module lac3s the automated orbital
"ight abilit$ and is simpl$ discarded and de(orbited at the end of the mission%
Shenzhou 1
Shenzhou 2
Shenzhou ;
Shenzhou 0
Shenzhou B
Shenzhou .
Shenzhou .
Shenzhou .
Re-entry Module
The re(entr$ module provides a full$ pressurised and habitable living space for
the cre* during the ascent and re(entr$ phase of the "ight% The module
accommodates So$uz(st$le moulded seats for up to three cre* members)
"ight instrument panel) control stic3er) periscope) and the communications
s$stem) *ith an internal volume of 1 cubic metres% There are t*o *indo*s for
the cre* to observe the outside%
Furing the descent stage of the "ight) the re(entr$ module Arst ma3es an
unpo*ered ballistic descent through the atmosphere) *ith its heat shield
protected blunt end pointing for*ard% The module has a spherical
aerod$namic design) *ith its centre of mass deliberatel$ and precisel$ oCset
from its a+is of s$mmetr$ to achieve an angle of attac3 during the free(fall%
This allo*s the $ield of a small lift to reduce g(force from 1G9 g for a purel$
ballistic trajector$ to ;G0 g during the h$personic free(fall) as *ell as greatl$
reducing the pea3 re(entr$ heat%
The re(entr$ module is Atted *ith Ave parachutes! a pilot chute (;%20 m2
surface area) a second pilot chute (>%. m2 surface area) a drogue chute (2;
m2 surface area) a main parachute (1)2>> m2 surface area) and a bac3up
parachute (.B> m2 surface area% The parachutes are deplo$ed from the
altitude of 1>)>>> m% The 21> 3g heat shield is jettisoned at an altitude of
B)>>> m% 7our landing roc3ets at the bottom of the
capsule are Ared 1 m above the ground to allo* a soft(landing%
The "ight instrument panel inside the Shenzhou re(entr$ module (earl$
Shenzhou cre* using a stic3 to help reach the control panel
/n inside vie* of the Shenzhou re(entr$ capsule and "ight instrument panel
Shenzhou cre* practising manual rendezvous doc3ing inside the re(entr$
Service Module and Propulsions
The inhabitable service module accommodates navigation) communications)
"ight control) thermal control) batteries) o+$gen tan3s) and propulsions% &t is
larger than that of the So$uz) *ith adjustable solar panels to obtain ma+imum
solar insulation regardless of the spacecraft2s "ight status%
The propulsion s$stem consists of four high(thrust main engines and 2;
smaller(thrust control engines) as *ell as four 2:>(litre propellant tan3s
containing a total of 1)>>> 3g @2-;EMMH li9uid propellant% The four main
engines) each rated at 2%0 3@) are located at the base of the spacecraft2s
service module% The spacecraft also has eight (in four pairs 10> @ pitch and
$a* thrust vectors) eight (in four pairs 0 @ pitch and $a* thrust vectors and
eight (in four pairs 0 @ roll E translation thrust vectors%
Docking System
The production variant Shenzhou is Atted *ith a doc3ing s$stem at the
for*ard(end of its orbital module% Fesigned b$ S/ST and believed to have
been based on the 5ussian /S/P(19) the doc3ing s$stem features a single
androg$nous doc3ing port) radio beacons) transponders) communication
antenna) IH7 radar) laser rangeAnder) and electro(optical trac3ing s$stem%
The inside diameter of the doc3ing port tunnel is >%1 m% Furing a rendezvous
doc3ing) the Shenzhou spacecraft acts as the Jchasing vehicle2) though either
D(bar or 5(bar approach%
Shenzhou doc3ing port
Launch Escape System
Shenzhou2s launch escape assembl$ incorporates the launch escape to*er)
the orbital module) the descent module) the upper portion of the pa$load
fairing and four foldable grid aerod$namic "aps% &n case of an anomal$ during
the launch) the assembl$ *ith the cre* can be pulled a*a$ from the
remainder of the launch vehicle *ithin seconds) b$ roc3ets mounted on the
launch escape to*er above the pa$load fairing%
The launch escape assembl$ is 10%1 m in length and :%1 m in diameter) and
has a total mass of 11)2B> 3g% &t is po*ered b$ the solid fuel roc3et motors
mounted on the launch escape to*er and pa$load fairing% The t*o(piece
pa$load fairing is also e9uipped *ith roc3et motors for high(altitude escape%
The launch escape to*er is 1%:0 m in length and Atted *ith si+ roc3et motors!
four main escape motors) a pitch motor and a separation motor *ith eight
nuzzles% The main four main escape motors are mounted s$mmetricall$ on the
lo*er part of the launch escape to*er at an angle of :>< to the a+is of the
launch vehicle% /bove them are eight smaller separation motors% The pitch
motors are mounted at the top of the to*er%
Shenzhou launch escape to*er
Environmental Control and Lie Support System
The 'nvironmental Control and ,ife Support S$stem ('C,SS ensures a
habitable and safe environment for the onboard cre* throughout the "ight
mission% &t consists of the environment control s$stem) o+$gen and other
gases storage tan3s) *ater suppl$ and processing s$stem) astronaut *aste
collection s$stem) AreEsmo3e detectors) and Are suppression s$stem%
Furing the "ight mission) ever$ da$ a t$pical cre*member consumes >%1: 3g
o+$gen and 1%1 litre of *ater) and produces >%9 3g carbon dio+ide% The
Shenzhou vehicle can create and
maintain an inside atmosphere similar
to that on 'arth) *ith conventional air
(nitrogenEo+$gen% / li9uid(circulating
temperature control unit maintains
the temperature inside the habitable
modules bet*een 1.G20<C% /ir
dampness is maintained bet*een :>
G.>K% /n air ventilation and
puriAcation s$stem detects and
absorbs dusts) carbon dio+ide and
carbon mono+ide%
The Shenzhou orbital module is Atted *ith a *aste disposal s$stem (space
toilet) *hich uses a vacuum s$stem to collect human *aste of the onboard
cre*% / food heater can provide the cre* *ith hot meals during the "ight%
The cre* is re9uired to *ear the intra(vehicular activit$ pressure suits during
launch) doc3ing) undoc3ing and descent% The suit) *hich *as based on the
5ussian So3ol design) can protect the cre* members in the event of hull
breach or pressure loss%
Shen!hou Missions
"nmanned Shen!hou #light $ests
Mission Cre% Launch Recovery Orbits Duration
1999(11(2> 1999(11(21 1; 21h 11m
2>>1(>1(1> 2>>1(>1(1B 1>.
Bd 11h
2>>2(>:(20 2>>2(>;(>1 1>.
Bd 11h
2>>2(12(:> 2>>:(>1(>0 1>.
Bd 11h
Manned Shen!hou #light Missions
Mission Cre% Launch Recovery
Lang ,i*ei
2>>:(1>(1B 1; 21h 2:m
7ei 8ulong
2>>0(1>(1. .0
;d 19h
,iu 4oming
2>>1(>9(21 ;0
2d 2>h
$iangong & Docking Missions
Mission Cre% Launch Recovery
1Bd 1:h
8ing Haipeng
,iu =ang
,iu Lang
2>> 12d 1;h
@ie Haisheng
=ang Laping
2:: 1;d 1;h