October 26, 2016

Chinese Astronauts To Get Comfort Upgrade In New Space Lab

Tiangong-2 was successfully launched into space on September 15.

BEIJING:  Two Chinese astronauts, to enter China’s second space lab currently in orbit next month, would have access to all the luxury fittings like Bluetooth, better lighting, sound dampening and exercise equipment.

The space laboratory, Tiangong II, will provide more comfortable facilities to astronauts living aboard than its predecessor, Tiangong I, said Zhu Zongpeng, chief designer of Tiangong II at China Academy of Space Technology.

The two astronauts will go on a manned space flight next month and join the Tiangong-2 and spend a month conducting different experiments.

Tiangong-2 was successfully launched into space on September 15.

The experimental space lab was part of efforts by China to build its manned space station by 2022, the time when US-led International Space Station is expected to go out of service.

“We considered many factors including the sound, lighting, inner decorations as well as support facilities. For instance, we installed a foldable, multifunctional table that can be used for dining and experiments. We also equipped the astronauts with Bluetooth headsets and Bluetooth speakers. A number of particulars were taken into account – the carpet in Tiangong I was replaced with floorboards. The light is softer and its brightness can be adjusted. Each astronaut has a bed lamp,” Zhu said.

The Tiangong-2 consists of two cabins with separate functions -the experiment cabin will be hermetically sealed and will act as the astronauts’ living quarters, while the resource cabin will contain solar panels, storage batteries, propellant and engines.

Liao Jianlin, a senior engineer at the academy who took part in Tiangong II’s development, told state-run China Daily that the lab has about 15 square metres for astronauts to live and work, including a separate sleep section and waste storage area.

He said engineers installed muffler devices in the spacecraft to ensure its inner sound is kept under 50 decibels.

Environmental controls will keep the temperature within
the experiment cabin between 22 degrees Celsius and 24 degrees
Celsius and the humidity between 45 and 55 per cent.

In addition, Tiangong II has an air detector capable of checking for and dealing with more than 20 hazardous gases and microbes.

Furthermore, designers placed exercise equipment in the space lab such as a treadmill, exercise bike and acupuncture point massager to help astronauts keep healthy, according to Liao.

He said its communications systems also allow astronauts to receive and reply to emails and make calls to family and friends.

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