Zarya - Soviet, Russian and International Spaceflight
carousel image
 
Launches and Orbital Operations


Tyneside, UK
2021 Jul 27
Tuesday, Day 208

Maintained by:






Mission Events 2021:




















Mission Events 2020:



Flashback:








Timelines:




Shenzhou 12 Launch

track map


Background

Starting 2021 mid-May, China launched Tianhe and Tianzhou 2 as the first two components of its space station. They were the build-up to the first crew, expected aboard June 17.


Shenzhou 12

The CZ 2F launch vehicle carrying Shenzhou 12 was rolled out to the launch pad on June 9, indicating that there was about one week to go before launch of a crew to the Space Station. Several aeronautical navigation warnings (NOTAMs) were issued June 13 indicating the chosen date was June 17. The areas covered were a corridor from the Jiuquan launch site to the coast with a drop zone for launch vehicle debris at the end.

A second area was set out that indicated an emergency landing zone the crew could use if a problem with Shenzhou 12 meant that they were in orbit but had a need for an immediate return to Earth.


Launch

A launch time can be calculated by looking at the relationship between Tianhe's ground track and the Jiuquan launch site. Indications from it are a lift-off at 01:18 UTC ±5 minutes. The NOTAMs point to about 01:20 UTC so the two are consistent.

On Jun 16, China announced that the launch was set for 01:22 UTC and the mission is set for three months duration.


First Minutes in Orbit

Events can be followed using the map above.

Nine minutes after lift-off, Shenzhou will separate from the launch vehicle upper stage. As that occurs, it will be rising above the radio horizon of the tracking ship Yuan Wang 6, stationed in the eastern Pacific Ocean about 1500 kilometres from Shanghai. Yuan Wang 6 will be able to communicate with it for about eight minutes in all.

There then follows about thirty minutes of flight where Shenzhou will be out of direct communication with any ground stations. It will, however, be in view of the Tianlian data relay satellites in geosynchronous orbit, one of which is stationed mid-Pacific near 176° east longitude.

At about L +49 minutes, Shenzhou will commence a 9-10 minute pass over the internationally-operated ground station near Santiago in Chile. The station was used for previous Shenzhou missions so its use is quite likely for Shenzhou 12.

Shenzhou 12 will then be commencing its chase of Tianhe.


Emergency Arrangements

Should a problem with the CZ 2F rocket occur around lift-off, the launch escape system (LES) will permit separation of the crew cabin followed by a parachute-assisted touchdown in the vicinity of the Jiuquan launch site.

A later emergency would again use the LES but landing would occur further downrange. A launch vehicle upper stage problem could drop the crew into the East China Sea or further out - into the Pacific. In that case, Yuan Wang 6 would co-ordinate a crew rescue.

Once in orbit, Shenzhou will unfold its solar panels and radio aerials. A problem at that point could require an immediate return to Earth for which an area has been set aside in eastern China. Re-entry (probably ballistic rather than a lifting trajectory), followed by a parachunte descent would put the crew on the ground about one hour and fifty minutes after they left the ground.


Timetable

First orbit sequence:

L +0Lift-off
L +9 minutesSeparation from Launch Vehicle, AOS Yuan Wang 6
L +17 minutesLOS Yuan Wang 6
L +49 minutesAOS Santiago
L +58 minutesLOS Santiago


In the event of Orbit 1 emergency (approximate times):

L +75 minutesRetro-fire
L +90 minutesRe-entry
L +100 minutesParachute deploy
L +110 minutesTouchdown


Chase and Docking

Shenzou is probably planned to arrive at the Station within a few hours of launch. The orbital geometry on June 17 puts it a small number of minutes behind the Station at launch. This is similar to the situation when Tianzhou 2 was launched to join up with Tianhe in orbit. On that occasion, they came together about eight hours after Tianzhou was launched.


Crews and Mission

The crew was announced as commander - Nie Haisheng (flew on Shenzhou 6 and Shenzhou 10), with Liu Boming (Shenzhou 7) and Tang Hongbo. The mission is set for three months duration. The backup crew consists of Zhai Zhigang, Wang Yaping and Ye Guangfu.

Objectives for the crew were described as:

First, they will operate and manage the complex, including the in-orbit test of the Tianhe module, validation of the recycling and life support system, testing and operation training of the robotic arm, as well as management of materials and waste.

Second, they will move, assemble and test extravehicular spacesuits and perform two extravehicular activities for work including assembling an extravehicular toolbox, lifting the panoramic camera and installing extended pump sets.

Third, they will carry out space science experiments and technology experiments, as well as public outreach activities.

Fourth, they will manage their own health through daily life care, physical exercise, and regular monitoring and assessment of their own health status.


Major Launch Navigation Warnings

The initial ground track is defined my two main NOTAMs. The first defines a corridor from Jiquan to the mainland coast.

A1257/21 NOTAMN
Q) ZXXX/QRTCA/IV/BO/W/000/999/3829N11027E515
A) ZBPE ZLHW ZSHA
B) 2106170113
C) 2106170139
E) A TEMPORARY RESTRICTED AREA ESTABLISHED BOUNDED BY:
N412436E1002400-N403112E1001048-N390524E1060600-N364648E1152924-N35-3336E1202924-N362848E1205848-N373600E1161912-N400112E1061536, BACK TO START.
ALL ACFT ARE FORBIDDEN TO FLY INTO THE TEMPORARY RESTRICTED AREA.
VERTICAL LIMITS:GND-UNL.
F) GND
G) UNL

The other is for a distinct area off the coast, north of Shanghai. It is probably the drop zone for the second, core stage of the CZ 2F.

A1253/21 NOTAMN
Q) ZSHA/QRTCA/IV/BO/W/000/999/3514N12246E112
A) ZSHA
B) 2106170113
C) 2106170155
E) A TEMPORARY RESTRICTED AREA ESTABLISHED BOUNDED BY:
N364724E1213112-N355100E1240000-N334000E1240000-N350300E1203300 BACK TO START.
ALL ACFT ARE FORBIDDEN TO FLY INTO THE TEMPORARY RESTRICTED AREA.
VERTICAL LIMITS:GND-UNL.
F) GND
G) UNL


Subsidiary Navigation Warnings

Further warnings within the main areas, and with their own time boundaries, are for specific activities in the launch timeline such as booster and shroud drops.

A1250/21 NOTAMN
Q) ZLHW/QRTCA/IV/BO/W/000/999/3936N10738E029
A) ZLHW
B) 2106170115
C) 2106170144
E) A TEMPORARY RESTRICTED AREA ESTABLISHED BOUNDED BY:
N393524E1081342-N391946E1080812-N392200E1074803-N393136E1070052-N395232E1070753-N394253E1075517 BACK TO START.
ALL ACFT ARE FORBIDDEN TO FLY INTO THE TEMPORARY RESTRICTED AREA.
VERTICAL LIMITS:GND-UNL.
F) GND
G) UNL

A1251/21 NOTAMN
Q) ZBPE/QRTCA/IV/BO/W/000/999/3859N11006E016
A) ZBPE
B) 2106170117
C) 2106170146
E) A TEMPORARY RESTRICTED AREA ESTABLISHED BOUNDED BY:
N384704E1102005-N390236E1102601-N391016E1095245-N385442E1094656
BACK TO START. ALL ACFT ARE FORBIDDEN TO FLY INTO THE TEMPORARY
RESTRICTED AREA.
VERTICAL LIMITS:GND-UNL.
F) GND G) UNL


Navigation Warning - Emergency Landing Area

A1254/21 NOTAMN
Q) ZXXX/QRTCA/IV/BO/W/000/999/2802N11334E189
A) ZGZU ZHWH ZSHA
B) 2106170247
C) 2106170333
E) A TEMPORARY RESTRICTED AREA ESTABLISHED BOUNDED BY:
N304312E1114500-N290300E1145400-N283412E1143148-N271724E1164612-N251948E1152248-N282324E1100412, BACK TO START.
ALL ACFT ARE FORBIDDEN TO FLY INTO THE TEMPORARY RESTRICTED AREA.
VERTICAL LIMITS:GND-UNL.
F) GND
G) UNL

Page Date - 2021 Jun 14
Updated as information becomes avilable

Copyright © Robert Christy, all rights reserved
Reproduction of this web page or any of its content without permission from zarya.info is prohibited