Shenzhou-17 crew shows advancement of China space station in New Year vlog

2024-01-04 08:30:06Global Times Editor : Li Yan ECNS App Download
(Photo/Snapshot from the China space station New Year vlog)

(Photo/Snapshot from the China space station New Year vlog)

China Manned Space Agency (CMSA) released on Wednesday a fresh episode of the China space station vlog showing the busy work and life of the current Shenzhou-17 crew in orbit on the first day of the New Year.

"The year 2024 marks the second year of the application and development phase of the China space station. Looking back at 2023, our life in space was rich and varied, with fruitful scientific research. Looking ahead to this year, we will continue to conduct numerous scientific experiments in orbit, contributing to humanity's better utilization of space," Shenzhou-17 mission commander Tang Hongbo said in the video.

The current Shenzhou-17 crew is the third in the Shenzhou family to welcome the New Year in orbit on the Tiangong Space Station, reflecting the progress of China's space journey from space station key tech verification and construction to application and development, the CMSA said.

In the vlog, Tang Hongbo showed the audience the Feitian spacesuit which was undergoing maintaining work, and then he floated into the sleeping quarters of the space station where viewers could see the Shenzhou-17 crew had tailored their dorm with personal decorations such as photographs of family members, global and Chinese maps.

Following the mission commander's camera, Tang Shengjie, the No.2 taikonaut of the Shenzhou-17 crew, displayed his work of tending space vegetables such as potato sprouts. "There are no bees in space, so I am working to pollinate the potato sprouts myself."

Jiang Xinlin, the youngest crew member, showed us how he prepared food in the space station kitchen.

The New Year menu included rice, noodles, and fried rice according to each taikonaut's preference. Also, there was pork stew, vegetables, and even dumplings for the taikonauts to enjoy on the first day of 2024.

Taikonauts can also enjoy fruit such as apples and grapes, according to Jiang.

Since entering the Tiangong Space Station on October 26, 2023, the Shenzhou-17 crew has already completed about one-third of their six-month "business trip" to the station. Over the past two months, taikonauts Tang Hongbo, Tang Shengjie, and Jiang Xinlin have successively completed tasks such as platform maintenance, scientific experiments, and the first extravehicular activity for experimental repair of the solar wings of the Tianhe core module.

During their stay, the "space vegetable garden" has seen a strong harvest. The taikonauts have picked and tasted vegetables cultivated jointly by two crews and have packed the freshly harvested vegetables for preservation. The Shenzhou-17 crew will continue to carry out a series of space station missions as planned, according to the CMSA.

The Global Times has learned from space insiders that in 2024, China's manned space program will conduct four flight missions - the Tianzhou-7 cargo spacecraft, Shenzhou-18 manned spacecraft, Tianzhou-8 cargo spacecraft, and Shenzhou-19 manned spacecraft.

Both the Shenzhou-18 and Shenzhou-19 crews will consist of three taikonauts each. This means that the space station will witness two in-orbit "shift changes" this year, with six astronauts successively residing in this "home in space," according to mission insiders.

The Tianzhou-7 and Tianzhou-8 cargo spacecraft, launched from the Wenchang Space Launch Site, will dock with the rear port of the Tianhe core module. The Shenzhou-18 and Shenzhou-19 manned spacecraft, launched from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, will dock with the radial and forward ports of the Tianhe core module, respectively.

Currently, the Tianzhou-7 cargo spacecraft and a Long March-7 Y8 carrier rocket have arrived at the Wenchang Space Launch Site and are undergoing final assembly and testing, awaiting launch early in the year.

Starting with the launch of the Tianzhou-6 in 2023, Tianzhou cargo spacecraft have adopted an improved cargo compartment, increasing the cargo space by about 24 percent and loading capacity by about 22 percent, from the previous 6.9 tons to 7.4 tons, making it one of the most capable cargo spacecraft in the world.

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