China space travelers, Jing Haipeng and Chen Dong, onboard Tiangong-2 space lab. Credit: CCTV

China space travelers, Jing Haipeng and Chen Dong, onboard Tiangong-2 space lab.
Credit: CCTV

The on-going flightlog of China’s latest piloted space mission has made use of an accompanying smallsat to capture images of the Tiangong-2 space lab and Shenzhou-11 manned spacecraft.

A wide-angle fisheye camera is free-floating alongside the linked space lab and Shenzhou-11 vehicle.

Deployed micro-satellite is monitoring the combined Tiangong-2/Shenzhou-11 vehicles. Credit: CCTV

Deployed micro-satellite is monitoring the combined Tiangong-2/Shenzhou-11 vehicles.
Credit: CCTV

Field of view

The camera, independently developed by the China Electronics Technology Group Corporation (CETC), took the first batch of over 300 high-resolution photographs of Tiangong-2 and Shenzhou-11 on Oct. 24, after the accompanying satellite was launched from the Tiangong-2 a day earlier.

Liu Tongyu, optoelectronic expert at CETC, reports via CCTV-Plus that the infrared fisheye camera has offers a large field of view of 180 degrees. It has been successful in monitoring the combined vehicles.

Printer-sized satellite is overseeing China space lab and Shenzhou-11 combination. Credit: CCTV

Printer-sized satellite is overseeing China space lab and Shenzhou-11 combination.
Credit: CCTV

Besides the infrared fisheye camera, there is also a visible light camera installed on the micro-satellite.

Size of a printer

That deployed satellite weighs 104 pounds (47 kilograms) and is the size of a printer. It is able to conduct efficient orbit control, process tasks autonomously and transmit data at high speeds.

Zhong said that judging from the images sent back, the two cameras are working smoothly. At the end of October, the satellite will orbit above Tiangong-2 and Shenzhou-11 and will send back the second batch of photos with the high-resolution camera.

“The images it sent back have shown that the camera’s functions have met the requirements and it is working very well,” Zhong reports. “Next time, when the microsatellite orbits above the spacecraft and space lab, it will take photos again. Then, everyone will see images of the combination with the Earth as the background.”

Pre-deployed image of small satellite deployed during the Tiangong-2/Shenzhou-11 mission. Credit: CCTV

Pre-deployed image of small satellite deployed during the Tiangong-2/Shenzhou-11 mission.
Credit: CCTV

Medical consulting system

The Shenzhou-11 spacecraft carried two astronauts into space — Jing Haipeng and Chen Dong — on Oct. 17 from northwest China’s Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center. After two days circling Earth, the piloted craft docked with Tiangong-2 space lab. They will stay in the space lab for 30 days before returning to Earth.

Chinese medical experts have tested the remote medical consulting system that links the astronauts in the orbiting space lab Tiangong-2 with the ground-based space center.

Diagnosis and prescription

The test was recently conducted at the Chinese PLA (People’s Liberation Army) General Hospital Telemedicine Center where medical experts received the astronauts’ data transmitted via the system and carried out medical checkups and cardiac function examinations. Then they sent the diagnosis and prescription to the astronauts, reports CCTV-Plus.

“Manned space missions that last for more than one or two weeks or even one month will have great physical and mental impact on the astronauts. Therefore they need medical support from the ground,” said Li Wen, deputy director of the gastroenterology department of the Chinese PLA General Hospital.

Inside Tiangong-2 as crew members carry out experiments. Credit: CCTV

Inside Tiangong-2 as crew members carry out experiments.
Credit: CCTV

Jing and Chen have provided data about blood pressure, pulse, respiration and cardiac function to the ground from the orbiting space lab.

“We analyzed the symptoms and offered our diagnosis and treatment plan for them through the interconnected system,” said Zhang Meikui, director of the Chinese PLA General Hospital Telemedicine Center.

Silkworm experiment

It has been reported that some of the six silkworms that have been brought into China’s Tiangong-2 space lab for experiments have begun to spin cocoons.

The silkworm-raising — one of the three experiments designed by Hong Kong middle school students –  selected from more than 4,000 ones specially cultivated by scientists, are now put into different boxes separately in the space and fed with pasty mulberry leaves, notes Zhao Danni, an engineer from No. 529 factory of China Academy of Space Technology.

Astronaut duties onboard Tiangong-2 space lab, precursor work for establishing a larger space station in the 2020s. Credit: CCTV

Astronaut duties onboard Tiangong-2 space lab, precursor work for establishing a larger space station in the 2020s.
Credit: CCTV

Li Guang, another engineer from No. 529 factory said that people are eagerly looking forward to the experiment results on the way of silkworm’s spinning cocoons and the quality of silks in the micro-gravity environment.

Maiden flight

Meanwhile, China is readying its largest carrier rocket, the Long March-5, for its maiden flight in November. The rocket was recently transported to the launch site on Hainan Island.

The carrier rocket was safely moved from the testing plant to the launch site at the Wenchang Satellite Launch Center in south China’s Hainan Province. Since it arrived at the center in September, the booster has completed all the assembling and testing work as planned, reports CCTV-Plus.

Preparations are underway for readying China's Long March-5 for its maiden liftoff in November. Credit: CCTV

Work is underway to ready China’s Long March-5 for its maiden liftoff in November.
Credit: CCTV

Long March-5 has the largest carrying capacity among China’s carrier rockets. The diameter of its main fuselage measures five meters across.

The rocket makes use of liquefied kerosene and very low-temperature or cryogenic liquefied oxygen and hydrogen as its fuels. Long March-5 is flagged by China as a milestone in the upgrading of China’s carrier rockets.

For a video update on Long March-5 preparations, go to:

http://cd-pv.news.cctvplus.com/2016/1028/8035340_Preview_6760.mp4

For video updates on the role of the Shenzhou-11/Tiangong-2 mission’s use of a micro-satellite, go to:

http://cd-pv.news.cctvplus.com/2016/1030/8035458_Preview_5455.mp4

http://cd-pv.news.cctvplus.com/2016/1026/8035158_Preview_1477479564634.mp4

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