BEIJING, April 17 (Xinhua) — Tianhe, the core module of China’s space station, has completed its verification of key technologies and achieved its expected goal.
Yang Hong, chief designer of the space station system of the China Manned Space Program at the China Academy of Space Technology, made the remarks at a press conference in Beijing on Sunday.
Yang said the core module has been in orbit for almost one year, and all missions have been carried out smoothly and according to plan, including rendezvous and docking with two manned spacecraft and two cargo spacecraft, as well as the three-month stay of the Shenzhou-12 crew and the six-month stay of the Shenzhou-13 crew.
Missions involving extravehicular activities, robotic arm transposition cargo spacecraft and manual remote operations have also been carried out in the past year.
Key technologies related to physical and chemical recycling and life support, large complex control, as well as large flexible solar cell wings and driving, have been verified.
Evaluation results show that Tianhe’s current functions perform better than their design, Yang said.
Tianhe’s recycling and life-support system has provided a good environment for astronauts’ metabolism needs in orbit, Yang said.
Moisture discharged by astronauts is collected as condensed water, and urine is recycled and processed into drinking water and electrolyte oxygen. Tianhe’s water recycling efficiency is higher than 95 percent.
The amount of drinking water and oxygen that needs to be carried by cargo spacecraft has been greatly reduced thanks to the technology.
Large-scale flexible solar cell wings have been providing energy for the core module and its complex. The assessment showed that the solar cell wings have a generation capacity approaching 10-kilowatt power, beyond the expectations of their design.
Four extravehicular activities conducted by the Shenzhou-12 and Shenzhou-13 crews covered the operations, installation and maintenance of electronics, machines, pipelines and other typical equipment outside the cabin, and laid a solid foundation for astronauts to install and maintain extravehicular facilities during long-term operational periods after the completion of the space station, Yang said.
The robot arm played an important role in the whole key technology verification process and performed excellently. Its joint motion ability and terminal positioning accuracy met its design expectations. And its stiffness proved to be capable of lifting and transferring large loads, Yang said.