Three high-tech 'superpowers' of Shenzhou-11 manned spacecraft

2016-10-17 21:39:27 | From:

Shenzhou-11 manned spacecraft. [Photo:]

Shenzhou-11 manned spacecraft is now floating around space among the stars and planets with two Chinese astronauts. Each day, it must deal with the most extreme temperatures imaginable, both hot and cold and maintain a living environment similar to earth. In preparation for the journey, the spaceship is equipped with three 'superpowers' involved in flying the ship, living in the ship in orbit and re-entering earth.

The crew currently in Shenzhou-11 would call these superpowers the propelling module, the orbital module and the re-entry capsule. Each section is carefully and meticulously designed for the extreme space environments space has by the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation.

Let's take a closer look at each compartment the astronauts are familiar with during their 30 days in space.

Shenzhou-11 manned spacecraft. [Photo:]

'Superpower 1': propelling module

A high thrust engine is located at the bottom of the spacecraft. This area is covered by many layers of high temperature thermal insulation materials, and can isolate a temperature as high as 900 degree Celsius.

Dealing with such high temperatures, it is vitally important the propelling module is equipped with appropriate materials. A circle of light green organic coating is placed on the surface to dissipate the heat. Meanwhile, a radiator with pure white thermal control coatings is installed on the exterior greatly improving its ability for thermal control.

In addition to this, the propelling module stores a variety of equipment for spacecraft operations.

'Superpower 2': orbital module

A screenshot of the orbital module of Shenzhou-11 manned spacecraft from CCTV News. [Photo: CCTV News]

The orbital module is a portion of the spacecraft specifically designed for its time in orbit. The interior carries key equipment to provide a habitat for rest along with a space bathroom to keep a clean environment for the astronauts during their time in space.

The exterior is made of several layers of thermal insulation materials to ensure a safe and healthy barrier between the space environments for the astronauts. The thermal insulation is about 2cm thick and can efficiently reduce the heat transfer between space and the interior, reduces heat leakage from the module's exterior, and manages the dramatic changes of thermal flux. The design ensures the module maintains an acceptable temperature range in the spaceship.

Before re-entering earth, the orbital capsule separates from the manned re-entry capsule, the part of the ship designed for safe return of the astronauts to earth.

'Superpower 3': re-entry capsule

A screenshot of the re-entry capsule of Shenzhou-11 manned spacecraft from CCTV News. [Photo: CCTV News]

The re-entry capsule provides a fully pressurized and habitable living space for the crew while in orbit as well as providing seating for the return journey to earth. The interior layer is made out of thick, latticed fire-proof materials. Its exterior is designed with heat shield protection, containing specially designed organic thermal control coatings to maintain the thermal equilibrium of the spacecraft during descent and landing.

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