GS Paper - 3 (Space Technology)

China launched a rocket carrying three astronauts - two men and one woman - to the core module of a future space station where they will live and work for six months, the longest orbit for Chinese astronauts. A Long March-2F rocket carrying the Shenzhou-13 spacecraft, which means "Divine Vessel", blasted off from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the northwestern province of Gansu.

What

  1. China began constructing the space station in April with the launch of Tianhe - the first and largest of the station's three modules. Slightly bigger than a city bus, Tianhe will be the living quarters of the completed space station.
  2. Shenzhou-13 is the second of four crewed missions needed to complete the space station by the end of 2022.
  3. In the latest mission, astronauts will carry out tests of the key technologies and robotics on Tianhe needed to assemble the space station, verify onboard life support systems and conduct a host of scientific experiments.
  4. China, barred by U.S. law from working with NASA and by extension on the International Space Station (ISS), has spent the past decade developing technologies to build its own.
  5. With the ISS set to retire in a few years, China's space station will become the only one in Earth's orbit.
  6. China became the third country to put a man in space with its own rocket, in October 2003, following the former Soviet Union and the United States.

Flashback

  1. The Chinese space station Tiangong -- meaning "heavenly palace" -- will need a total of around 11 missions to bring more parts and assemble them in orbit.
  2. Once completed, it is expected to remain in low Earth orbit at between 400 and 450 kilometres (250 and 280 miles) above our planet for at least 10 years -- realising an ambition to maintain a long-term human presence in space.