A 3-person crew recently began duties at China’s Tiangong space station, taking up from the present crew who’ve been there for six months and have since returned to Earth. The Shenzhou 14 crew landed within the Dongfeng area within the Gobi Desert on Saturday, December 4, abandoning the Shenzhou 15 crew who will now operate the station.
This was the primary time that six astronauts had been present on the brand new space station, because the Wenchang module, installed this summer, was required to offer extra crew quarters for the larger crew. Together with the recently added Mengtian module, the station now has all the foremost hardware in place.
Illustration of China’s Tiangong space station. CNSA
China’s state news agency, Xinhua, said that the station will now be home to a wide range of scientific work, with greater than 40 science and technology experiments to be conducted by the Shenzhou 15 crew.
While China’s space agency has traditionally had little or no cooperation with other space agencies like NASA or the European Space Agency, there may very well be a point of cooperative work done on the brand new station. “A lot of space science projects China jointly chosen with the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs and European Space Agency are planned, and the relevant payloads will begin to be sent to the Chinese space station next 12 months,” Xinhua writes. “Requests have also been received from several countries to send astronauts to take part in the space station experiments, and China is coordinating with the relevant parties and actively preparing for the training of foreign astronauts.”
There has also been international controversy regarding the Chinese station, nonetheless, as boosters from the Long March 5B rockets used to deliver crew and parts to the station have fallen to Earth in uncontrolled descents. This happened in each July and November this 12 months, with NASA Administrator Bill Nelson condemning the practice of letting boosters perform uncontrolled re-entries as dangerous, with the potential to cause damage or lack of life. Chinese officials have denied the danger, saying that the probability of causing damage is low, but many experts still consider the practice irresponsible.