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


As China’s space station era draws closer, the country’s astronauts are receiving comprehensive training to assure longer stints in space, as well as carry out space walking tasks for in-orbit assembly and repair of the station.

An April 8 China Central Television (CCTV) interview with Chen Dong – who flew on the Shenzhou 11 mission in October 2016 to board the Tiangong-2 space lab – detailed the challenges ahead. Chen said the space station era has set higher requirements for the astronauts.

Inside Tiangong-2 as crew members carry out experiments. Mission lasted 33-days.
Credit: CCTV

More tasks

“The manned space program has entered the space station era, which means that the astronauts will stay in space for a longer time with more tasks to be performed. This has set higher requirements for our physical condition, knowledge, mental status and skills, and brought more challenges,” Chen explained.

Putting in place China’s space station will offer many new challenges.
Credit: CCTV/screengrab

The missions for the space station, Chen said, will feature long in-orbit stays, regular extra-vehicular activities, in-orbit assembling and repair of the station, which means more challenges for the astronauts.

“For example, during the Shenzhou-11 mission, we spent 33 days in space. We may stay three months, or even half a year in our follow-on missions, with more extra-vehicular activities to assemble and maintain the space station. So with so many new situations and new changes, we have also improved our current trainings,” Chen told CCTV.

The Tianhe core module for China’s Space Station undergoes ground testing.
Credit: CCTV/Screengrab

Station technology

According to Chen, China’s astronauts have begun the study of space station technology, mechanical arms and extra-vehicular activities. They have also gone through diving training for adaptation, and intensified their strength and stamina training.

“So all of these are prepared for the space station. I think the change is newer knowledge, harder operation and higher requirements. But we have the confidence and capability to fulfill the tasks,” Chen said.

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