What’s the Concern? Successful Launch of Tianzhou-7 and What’s Next for Shenzhou-18 and Shenzhou-19 Missions
Following the successful launch and docking of the Tianzhou-7 mission, Yang Liwei disclosed information about China’s upcoming Shenzhou-18 and Shenzhou-19 missions, albeit leaving some fans underwhelmed by not sharing the eagerly awaited details they had hoped for.
Specifically, while Yang confirmed the selection of crew members for the two missions, no further details were provided, stirring curiosity and disappointment.
This raises questions about why, unlike other countries that announce their astronaut selections well in advance, China keeps these details under wraps. Let’s delve deeper into this, starting with a quick recap of the Tianzhou-7 cargo spacecraft mission before addressing broader astronaut selection queries.
Tianzhou-7’s Successful Launch: What Were the Highlights?
Tianzhou-7 has undoubtedly enhanced China’s cargo delivery capabilities, carrying over 260 items and a total weight of more than 5.6 tons. This includes astronauts’ supplies, perishables like water and gas, and materials for scientific experiments.
This mission also saw an increased load of fruits around 90 kg, apart from delivering a special Spring Festival gift package for the Year of the Dragon, which has added to the anticipation among the public.
Among the mission’s technological highlights is China’s adoption of a new docking mode with the space station, completing in 3 hours, an alternative to the existing 2-hour and 6.5-hour modes. This flexibility allows for optimized mission planning based on specific mission requirements and rocket performance.
Shenzhou-18 and Shenzhou-19 Crew Announced!
Following the Tianzhou-7 mission comes the reveal of China’s space mission agenda for 2024, including the launch of Shenzhou-18 and Shenzhou-19, among other significant tasks.
These missions are part of a busy year for China’s manned space program, involving intense preparations for the selected astronauts, focusing on scientific experiments, maintenance, and assembly tasks aboard the space station.
However, the lack of detailed disclosure regarding the astronaut crews has sparked discussions.
Why the Secrecy?
China’s approach to astronaut selection differs from that of other countries, maintaining a high level of confidentiality until missions are underway. This discretion stems from the need to protect astronauts’ privacy and ensure the integrity of their training, avoiding any potential external influences or disruptions.
Moreover, disclosure at a carefully chosen moment prior to mission execution is seen as the optimal timing, serving both the astronauts’ preparation needs and public interest, thus embodying a strategic balance between secrecy and transparency.
Ultimately, China’s cautious approach isn’t about fear but rather about adhering to its established protocols for space missions, ensuring that when names are finally announced, they come at a moment that serves both the mission’s and astronauts’ best interests.