Monday, September 22, 2008

Ships ready to track Shenzhou VII space mission

All five satellite tracking ships are now in position to support China's first space walk mission.

The final Yuanwang ship arrived at its destination on Monday, said Jian Shilong, director with the China Maritime Tracking and Control Department.

The ships will remotely track and support the Shenzhou VII space shuttle which will blast off in late September.

Four ships are on the Pacific ocean and one is on the Atlantic.

"In previous missions including the Shenzhou V and Shenzhou VI missions, only four tracking ships were deployed," Jian said. "We added one more to the Shenzhou VII mission to monitor the taikonaut's extra-vehicular activities."

Jian said the tracking ships will monitor the entire space walk and also keep tabs on the depressurization of the orbital module when taikonauts leave and re-enter the spaceship.

The Yuanwang ships can control the shuttle's solar panels, its orbit maneuvers and maintenance.

In all, China boasts a fleet of six Yuanwang space tracking ships which have carried out 68 expeditions and traveled more than1.4 million sea miles in the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans.

The tracking ships constitute China's space telemetry network together with some 20 terrestrial surveying stations.

Source: Xinhua

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