The days when we had spent 20 years together since Shenzhou spaceship was successfully launched

The days when we had spent 20 years together since Shenzhou spaceship was successfully launched

2019/11/29 20:53
Page view
The days when we had spent 20 years together since Shenzhou spaceship was successfully launched

Shenzhou-I was successfully launched on November 20, 1999, and there-entry module landed at the landing ground in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region at 3:41 on the 21st day, marking the complete success in the first flight test of Chinese Manned Spaceflight Engineering.


Back to January 1991, Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight Technology (hereinafter referred to as the SAST) established 11demonstration groups attended by 80 personnel, and started the early demonstration of spacecraft plans for the Manned Spaceflight Engineering, and also put forward the three-compartmentplan formed by propelling module, re-entry module and orbital module, in which the inner alleyway connects to the orbital module and the re-entry module.  


On September 21, 1992, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China approved the Chinese Manned Spaceflight Engineering and the “three-step” strategy of manned spacecraft, space laboratory and space station made in the Chinese Manned Spaceflight Engineering. In the same year, the Manned Spaceflight Engineering was officially included into the national plan, and entered the engineering development stage. The SAST undertook the task to develop the propulsion subsystem, power subsystem, and measurement & control and communication subsystem equipment, propelling module structure and assembly, and most stand-alone equipment for power supply and distribution, in respect of the manned spacecraft system based on the division of labor.

The primary task is to achieve breakthroughs in key technologies

From the time when the Manned Spaceflight Engineering was approved in 1992 to the time when the first unmanned flight was executed upon request in 1999, there had been high technical requirements and tight schedule. Besides, the entire engineering lacked advanced researches, so breakthroughs in series of key technologies must be achieved in a short period of time.

●The key of the spacecraft propelling system is the 2500N engine with double components and multiple start-ups, which is the engine with the maximum thrust for domestic spacecrafts.

●The power system of the spacecraft is requested to be designed with light weight and high performance.

●The measurement & control and communication system of the spacecraft is the most complete system of our spacecrafts, especially the images and voices related to astronauts and the transmission technologies, which are the newest technologies.


▲Shenzhou test spacecraft

It was a severe test for this new manned spaceflight development team to face above ten projects for tackling technical problems set in the plan stage. The SAST selected advanced plans and adopted reliable methods from the perspective of the manned objective, the overall requirements, and the overall progress. Meanwhile, it also organized the team while creating conditions and accumulating experiences, and achieved the objective of tackling technical problems at the stipulated nodes. Moreover, it also produced complete integration test products in the plan stage, and passed the review for entering the prototype stage from the plan stage in advance.

Made a solemn promise and cultivated a team that can win tough fights

In 1997, higher authorities put forward the assumption of converting electrical spacecrafts into return test spacecrafts, and then the first flight test was implemented in 1999, during which return technologies and other relevant technologies were evaluated in advance. Most electronic products of electrical spacecraft can participate in the flight test after suitable conversion or test, but the engine and solar battery wings equipped thereby are structural simulation components. Therefore, a brand new products of prototype sample state that can meet flight requirements must be put into production to be used in the flight test, so that “it can be launched and return back accordingly”. Besides, two-year workloads should be completed in a year. During that time, the task undertaken by the SAST to prove “whether the propelling system and the power system are feasible” became the key for the engineering headquarter to make decisions. Under the lead of Shi Jinmiao, Deputy Commander and Deputy Chief Designer of the manned spacecraft system, according to the research conducted by the researchers, the manned spaceflight development team of the SAST faced up the difficulties and made a solemn promise after figuring out the gaps and difficulties: our products can fly into space.

To ensure that Shenzhou-I test task can be completed, the top priority is to ensure the reliability of the propelling system. Since no test run of engine can be implemented before the flight, and the engine after test run cannot be used in the flight task, the reliability of the propelling system can only be verified on the basis of certain quantity of successful test run results, so as to further indicate that engines of the same batch can be used in the flight test. However, there were few test runs at that time, with the demand to increase certain quantity of test runs. The SAST worked hard to keep up with the progress of test run, especially the aerial test run for 2500N engine and the full-system hot test run, and met the quality requirement of success at one time, while speeding up the production of formal products. Finally, it completed two-year workloads in a year.

The power system is also the key of the test spacecraft. In face of the condition to reproduce solar power wing flight products, the power system researchers tried their best to organize outsourcing production in the short production processing line, reinforce test capacity, adopt the policy that products were in the pipeline while personnel were resting, strictly implement quality assurance measures, reinforce organization scheduling, and finally solve difficulties and develop products as scheduled.  

This tough fight has fully exercised the capacity of the SAST in organization, design, production, quality management and condition guarantee, and made it become a team that can win tough fights.

After Shenzhou-I test spacecraft was successfully launched, 23 technologies and achievements made by the SAST won the National Defense Science and Technology Achievement Rewards, including 2 first prizes, 10 second prizes, and 11 third prizes. Besides, 46 special standards for models were also established.

In the big manned spacecraft system, the SAST won the first battle, and fully showed its strong creativity and craftsman spirits, solved difficulties, made innovations and tabled key problems, while giving full play to the large-scale cooperation spirits of Shanghai. The development, launching and flight control task of ten spacecrafts, Tiangong-1, Tiangong-2, and Tianzhou-1 as well as ten times of docking mission, the secondary propellant refilling and other tasks were completed afterwards on the basis of successful launching of Shenzhou-I, which had shown the comprehensive strength of the SAST, and many innovative achievements were made. Shenzhou-I is the place where all dreams begin.


Source:Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight Technology