A major difference between a manned and unmanned spacecraft lies in the need for environmental control and life-protection systems. These aim to guarantee the safety of taikonauts during lift-off, orbit and the return to Earth. The systems are essential for China's manned space flight program, which consists of seven major independent systems.|
The first major system of China's manned space flight program is a complex taikonaut system, combining advanced medical and engineering technology. It deals with the selection and training of taikonauts, providing medical surveillance and safeguards to them in outer space, and the research and development of space suits and life-support.
The second major system is the spacecraft's applied system, which carries out space-to-ground surveillance and various scientific experiments. These cover life sciences, space materials, astronomy and physics under conditions of micro-gravity in outer space.
The third system is the manned spacecraft system, which constitutes the core of the manned space flight program. It consists of a booster module, an orbital module and a re-entry capsule as well as a pair of solar energy panels. The orbital module doubles as a work and living place for taikonauts during orbital flight. When the taikonaut returns to Earth, the orbital module will remain in outer space for future use. The booster module houses a number of rocket engines that control spacecraft postures, orbit changes and stop movements if necessary. It will be abandoned when the spacecraft flies back to Earth, and burned to ashes in the atmospheric layer. The only module that will return is the re-entry capsule that accommodates the taikonauts during lift-off and return. Sets of parachutes are used to enable a safe landing.
The fourth system is the carrier rocket system, which sends the spacecraft into outer space. The manned flight will use the "Long March" II F carrier rocket - the most powerful in the Long March series. It boasts a 99.9% launching reliability. To ensure the safety of taikonauts, the rocket is equipped with an error-detecting sub-system and a life-saving escape sub-system.
Then there is the launching ground system. The Shenzhou V spacecraft will take off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in Gansu Province, northwest China. The launching ground system at Jiuquan uses technology to enable the assembly, testing, and transport of rockets and spacecraft to the launching pad - all in a vertical state as well as remote testing for a launch. It is also responsible for testing and controlling the spacecraft's lift-off and ascent processes.
The sixth major system deals with manned flight surveillance, control and communications. It will conduct surveillance and remote control over the launch, orbit and return of the spacecraft. It is also the only communication link between the spacecraft and ground control. The system is equipped with monitoring and control facilities including four ocean-going vessels, six ground stations and three mobile stations. During the manned flight, the four vessels will be deployed in the Pacific, Indian and Atlantic oceans to provide non-stop global monitoring and control services.
The last major system is the landing ground system that includes the master landing ground in Inner Mongolia and the backup landing ground at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center. If weather conditions prevent the re-entry capsule from landing in Inner Mongolia, the Jiuquan site is an alternative. The landing ground system consists of landing-area tracking radar, equipment for forecasting and controlling landing spots, as well as staff and equipment to recover the capsule. Its mission is to search for and rescue taikonauts, and recovers the capsule as soon as possible after touchdown.
The development and operation of these seven major systems have involved large numbers of scientists and technicians with special expertise across a spectrum of scientific fields. Tens of thousands of such scientific workers have worked hard to ensure the complex program has progressed phase-by-phase to achieve a successful conclusion.