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

 

China’s ongoing piloted space mission is rounding the corner on a month-long mission, with two crewmen living onboard the country’s Tiangong-2 space lab.

The 49-year-old Jing Haipeng and 37-year-old Chen Dong went into the space on Shenzhou-11 manned spacecraft on October 17th, docking with the Tiangong-2 two days later.

As of Wednesday, two Chinese astronauts have been onboard the space lab for 22 days. Credit: CCTV-Plus

As of Wednesday, two Chinese astronauts have been onboard the space lab for 22 days.
Credit: CCTV-Plus

Experiments underway

Wu Dawei, director, overall plan office, Beijing Aerospace Flight and Control Center reports on a CCTV-Plus interview: “The astronauts are in excellent shape. They have completely adapted to the space environment after going through the initial period in the space. They now eat well, sleep well, and work well. As for food, they are very pleased with the food this time. They sleep very well, about seven hours daily. That’s their current condition.”

Wu said that the experiments onboard Tiangong-2 are proceeding as planned, and the space duo have finished about nine or ten of them. “The remaining ten plus experiments will be finished in the coming week.”

General Secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee Xi Jinping -- also Chinese president and chairman of the Central Military Commission -- called the two astronauts aboard the Tiangong-2 space lab from the command center of China’s manned space program. Credit: CCTV-Plus

General Secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee Xi Jinping — also Chinese president and chairman of the Central Military Commission — called the two astronauts aboard the Tiangong-2 space lab from the command center of China’s manned space program.
Credit: CCTV-Plus

Presidential call

General Secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee Xi Jinping — also Chinese president and chairman of the Central Military Commission — called the two astronauts aboard the Tiangong-2 space lab from the command center of China’s manned space program on Wednesday.

Before making the call, Xi watched the brain-computer interaction in-orbit repair experiment on Tiangong-2 at the Command Center.

Arm work

Reports CCTV-Plus, the Tiangong-2 space lab is equipped with an in-orbit repair robotic arm terminal operation system, which is used by astronauts to test the brain-computer interaction in-orbit repair technology that will allow astronauts to control equipment with their thoughts rather than manually.

The system, over 4 feet long (1.35 meters) includes the human-simulated robotic arm, human-simulated robotic hand, binocular global camera, hand-eye camera, controller, data glove and three-dimensional mouse.

The size of the human-simulated robotic hand conforms to the size of the hand of the astronauts in extravehicular spacesuit.

Shenzhou-11 crew is now onboard the Tiangong-2 space lab for the country's longest piloted space mission. Credit: CCTV-Plus

Shenzhou-11 crew is now onboard the Tiangong-2 space lab for the country’s longest piloted space mission.
Credit: CCTV-Plus

Robotic servicing

Billed as the first such experiment in the world, it was jointly developed by the fifth institute of the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), the Harbin Institute of Technology, and the Beijing Institute of Technology.

The experiment verifies the in-orbit technology of the core parts of the robotic arm, exploring the brain-computer interaction mode to accumulate experience of space robots working in orbit.

During the experiment, the robotic hand will simulate the typical moves of dismantling the thermal insulation materials, unscrewing the electric plug, and using electric tools to turn the screws in the orbit.

Other tests include robotic joint stiffness in-orbit identification and grasping floating balls, reports CCTV-Plus.

Credit: CSU

Credit: CSU

Lettuce, silkworms

As of Wednesday, astronauts Jing and Chen have been onboard the space lab for 22 days.

During their stay, the space travelers have carried out experiments like planting nine lettuces and raising silkworms, in addition to in-orbit maintenance of spacecraft.

Jing and Chen are expected to stay in the space for 33 days. They work six days a week in line with schedules on the ground during this longest piloted mission for China.

The astronauts have a menu with nearly one hundred dishes for their meals. Their menu changes every day for a 5-day period. They also can watch news programs, football games and documentaries in the space lab, a space lifestyle that includes an exercise program.

For a video update on the mission, go to:

http://cd-pv.news.cctvplus.com/2016/1109/8036255_Preview_1478694818274.mp4

http://cd-pv.news.cctvplus.com/2016/1109/8036251_Preview_1478692556787.mp4

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