back to article China: Face-to-face meetings are best when swapping space station crews

China's Tiangong space station will host six taikonauts for the first time, after a fresh crew reaches the orbital habitat this week. The Middle Kingdom's space agency yesterday named the three crew members selected to fly to the station later today: 56 year old Deng Qingming, who has been on the backup list for crewed …

  1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "a veteran of China's second ever crewed mission"

    Excuse me, but a veteran is someone who is supposed to have significant experience in a particular domain or activity. Doing something once does not give you significant experience.

    Fei Junlong was part of the second Chinese crewed mission, no problem there, but that does not make him a veteran.

    If he is part of the next three crewed missions after this one, then he will have five missions under his belt and, like a WWII ace, will then likely deserve the term veteran.

    But not before.

    1. jdiebdhidbsusbvwbsidnsoskebid

      Re: "a veteran of China's second ever crewed mission"

      I guess the article did say he was a veteran of the second mission, not a veteran of space travel generally. He's probably got significant experience of that mission.

    2. Gene Cash Silver badge

      Re: "a veteran of China's second ever crewed mission"

      Unfortunately, in space you are a veteran if you've done it once already. Very few people get more than a couple missions.

      ISS is improving this, but only somewhat.

  2. Andy The Hat Silver badge

    Consumables at 400kg per year

    That's only 180g per occupant per day - water, oxygen, food, toothpaste, soap, athlete's foot powder ... If the Taikonauts are still comfortable that is a very impressive figure. However I would suspect conditions would have to be fairly harsh to achieve it - fully dehydrated food (and water :-) ) is your friend.

    According to a well-known source, average oxygen use is about 700Kg per year per person (based on 1/3 of intake volume actively used for respiration). How much of of that is excreted from the body in some form that can be recycled back into environmental oxygen I really don't know. With the solar power available, can they break expelled CO2 efficiently as most methods I've seen are very power hungry? The ISS dumps CO2 overboard from the zeolite scrubbers so it becomes a waste product but that method would conflict with the 400kg figure quoted... Perhaps the figures are slightly misrepresented and don't include basics like fuel, water and oxygen?

    1. yetanotheraoc Silver badge

      Re: Consumables at 400kg per year

      "Perhaps the figures are slightly misrepresented and don't include basics like fuel, water and oxygen?"

      I don''t think that can be the case, since from the article "Recovering 95 percent of oxygen and water was cited as the main contributor to the reduction in required supplies." Ergo, oxygen and water are included.

      Still, you are correct to question the numbers. "..advanced life support systems that have reduced the mass of consumables needed to sustain the crew – from 8,000kg a year to just 400kg." These numbers have to be per person. If water is 3.2 liters per day that's 700 + 1168 = 1868 kg/person/year. Then 95% of that is a savings of 1775 kg, so I don't see how that can be the "main contributor" to a reduction from 8000 kg to 400 kg.

      One assumes the Chinese know how much mass they are shifting to their space station on each launch. We just don't know what the given numbers refer to.

  3. Potemkine! Silver badge

    If one is COVID-positive, those six are in trouble, cohabitation may last more than a week.

    == Bring us Dabbsy back! ==

  4. PRR Bronze badge

    > its heaviest-ever weight of nearly 100 tons

    Tiangong is weightless. (Until it crashes back to earth.)

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They can launch a rocket in -20 degree, but if that happened here, it would be a national emergency.

    1. Jon 37

      Guess you are too young to remember Challenger?

      Space Shuttle Challenger was launched by NASA on a very cold day. The engineers warned that the seals on the boosters would probably fail at that temperature. They launched anyway. The boosters failed and the spacecraft exploded, completely destroying it.

      All aboard died.

      Although after the initial explosion, the cabin was fairly intact, and if you look closely it can be seen on the video as a single large piece of debris. At least some of the crew survived the initial explosion and probably died about a minute or so later when the remains of the cabin hit the sea. We know this because they recovered the wreckage and observed that the crew had started the emergency procedures for depressurisation. There was no escape procedure for the crew - no escape capsule, no parachutes, nothing they could do.

      The crew included a "normal person", a teacher, who was going up to demonstrate how routine and safe space travel had become.

      NASA had done a huge PR effort for the mission, especially focused on schoolchildren. Lots of schools had been doing projects about what Challenger was planned to do, and had more projects planned including lessons broadcast live from the teacher in space. The launch was broadcast live to the world, and the schools had encouraged their pupils to watch it. So lots of schoolchildren saw the explosion live. It was far more memorable than expected, it left a deep impression on a generation of space enthusiasts. Not something I will forget.

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