Shenzhou 15
Shenzhou 15 atop a Long March 2F prior to liftoff
Mission typeTiangong space station crew transport
OperatorChina Manned Space Agency
COSPAR ID2022-162A Edit this at Wikidata
SATCAT no.54379Edit this on Wikidata
Mission duration186 days, 7 hours and 25 minutes
Spacecraft properties
Spacecraft typeShenzhou
ManufacturerChina Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation
Crew
Crew size3
MembersFei Junlong
Deng Qingming
Zhang Lu
EVAs4
EVA duration7 hours 6 minutes (1st EVA only)
Start of mission
Launch date29 November 2022, 15:08:17 UTC
RocketLong March 2F
Launch siteJiuquan, LA-4/SLS
ContractorChina Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology
End of mission
Landing date3 June 2023, 22:33 UTC
Landing siteInner Mongolia, China
Orbital parameters
Reference systemGeocentric orbit
RegimeLow Earth orbit
Inclination41.5°
Docking with Tiangong space station
Docking portTianhe forward
Docking date29 November 2022, 21:42 UTC
Undocking date3 June 2023, 13:29 UTC
Time docked185 days, 15 hours and 47 minutes

Shenzhou 15 mission patch

Fei Junlong, Deng Qingming and Zhang Lu 

Shenzhou 15 (Chinese: 神舟十五号; pinyin: Shénzhōu Shíwǔ-hào; lit. 'Divine Boat Number 15') was a Chinese spaceflight to the Tiangong space station, launched on 29 November 2022. It carried three People's Liberation Army Astronaut Corps (PLAAC) taikonauts on board a Shenzhou spacecraft. The mission was the tenth crewed Chinese spaceflight and the fifteenth flight overall of the Shenzhou program.

Background

Shenzhou 15 was the fourth spaceflight to the Tiangong space station, and the third with a standard mission duration of approximately six months.[1] It was also the first mission to the station following its initial completion, with the launch and docking of the Wentian and Mengtian modules in July and October 2022 respectively.[2]

Prior to launch, the Shenzhou 15 spacecraft was maintained in a state of near-readiness if needed as a lifeboat for the Shenzhou 14 crew.[3]

The crew of Shenzhou 15 was announced on 28 November 2022.[4]

Shenzhou 15 crew during a pre-launch farewell ceremony

Mission

The flight launched from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center on 29 November 2022 at 15:08 UTC, following the launch of Tianzhou 5 and near the end of the Shenzhou 14 mission.[5] Just over 6.5 hours after launch, the spacecraft docked with the Tianhe core module's forward docking port.

The crew entered the station at 23:33 UTC on 29 November, and were greeted by the crew of Shenzhou 14. This marked the first Chinese crew handover in space, and set a new record for total taikonauts in space, at six. There was a five-day overlap between Shenzhou 15 and the previous mission before Shenzhou 14's departure on 4 December.[6][7]

During the mission, the Shenzhou 16 spacecraft remained on standby to serve as an emergency rescue vehicle.[8]

The Shenzhou 15 crew carried out four spacewalks, worked on payloads both inside and outside the station, and carried out other scientific work during the six-month mission.[7] During Shenzhou 15's stay aboard Tiangong, the Tianzhou 6 cargo spacecraft arrived and docked with the station.[9]

Spacewalks

On 9 February 2023, the first scheduled spacewalk of Shenzhou 15 was carried out by Fei Junlong and Zhang Lu, with Deng Qingming assisting the pair from inside the Tianhe core module. The two exited through the airlock of the Wentian lab module and completed a series of tasks, including the installation of a fourth external pump (Z01-04) on the Mengtian lab module and other tasks related to Mengtian's payload airlock, which allows science payloads and small satellites to be deployed using the station's robotic arms. The first spacewalk lasted for 7 hours and 6 minutes, a new duration record for a Chinese spacewalk at the time.[10][11][12]

Fei Junlong performing a spacewalk outside Tiangong on February 9, 2023

The second spacewalk was publicly announced on 2 March 2023 with no official date given (although rumors suggest it may have occurred on 28 February),[13] with Fei Junlong and Zhang Lu on EVA while Deng Qingming once again assisted from aboard the station. According to some Chinese-language sources, the repetitive motion of detaching and re-attaching a safety tether to exterior handrails on the station strained Fei Junlong's upper body during the initial transfer to the work site. The equipment installed on EVA 2 allegedly had about 20 electrical plugs, whose protective covers had to be removed before installation and a power test.[14]

The mission's third spacewalk was rumored to have occurred on 30 March 2023, although similar to the second EVA, no official date was given. Fei Junlong and Zhang Lu installed connecting cables across the station cabin, with more than 40 electrical plugs allegedly being installed.[15]

The mission's fourth and final spacewalk is rumored to have occurred on 15 April 2023. Fei Junlong and Zhang Lu installed the fifth extended pump (Z02-01) on the exterior of Mengtian, as well as dumping trash bags, and installing additional cross-cabin cables, an external load exposure platform, and support rods for later, larger-scale science and technology experiments.[16]

No duration was officially given for the last three spacewalks.

Return

Shenzhou 15 returned to Earth on 3 June 2023, landing at the Dongfeng landing site in the Gobi Desert in Inner Mongolia at 22:33 UTC.[17]

Crew

Position Crew member
Commander China Fei Junlong, PLAAC
Second spaceflight
Operator China Deng Qingming, PLAAC
First spaceflight
System Operator China Zhang Lu, PLAAC
First spaceflight

Commander Fei Junlong previously flew on Shenzhou 6, China's second crewed spaceflight, in 2005.

Shenzhou 15 was Deng Quingming's first spaceflight after 25 years of training, having been selected as a taikonaut in 1997.[17]

See also

References

  1. ^ "中国航天进入空间站建造关键时期——访中国载人航天工程办公室主任郝淳". Xinhua News Agency. Archived from the original on 30 April 2021. Retrieved 29 April 2021.
  2. ^ Barbosa, Rui C. (1 March 2021). "China preparing to build Tiangong station in 2021, complete by 2022". NASASpaceFlight.com. Archived from the original on 2 March 2021. Retrieved 1 March 2021.
  3. ^ Jones, Andrew (2022-06-07). "China's next crewed spacecraft is ready for potential space station rescue mission". Space.com. Retrieved 2023-12-11.
  4. ^ Jones, Andrew (2022-11-28). "China reveals the 3 astronauts flying on Shenzhou 15 space station mission". Space.com. Retrieved 2023-12-09.
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  7. ^ a b "China reveals missions of Shenzhou-14, Shenzhou-15 space crews - Khmer Times". 2022-04-18. Retrieved 2022-06-03.
  8. ^ Jones, Andrew (4 December 2022). "China's Shenzhou 14 astronauts return to Earth after helping build Tiangong space station". space.com. Archived from the original on 4 December 2022. Retrieved 8 December 2022.
  9. ^ Jones, Andrew (2023-05-10). "Tianzhou-6 cargo spacecraft reaches China's Tiangong space station". SpaceNews. Retrieved 2023-12-10.
  10. ^ "China's Shenzhou 15 astronauts take their 1st spacewalk outside Tiangong space station (video)". Space.com. Archived from the original on 10 February 2023. Retrieved 10 February 2023.
  11. ^ "《面对面》揭秘神十五乘组四次出舱细节". Weixin Official Accounts Platform. Archived from the original on 2023-08-17. Retrieved 2023-08-17.
  12. ^ "China's Shenzhou 15 astronauts take their 1st spacewalk outside Tiangong space station (video)". Space.com. 10 February 2023. Archived from the original on 10 February 2023. Retrieved 10 February 2023.
  13. ^ Jones, Andrew (2023-03-02). "China's Shenzhou-15 astronauts conduct secretive second spacewalk". SpaceNews. Retrieved 2023-12-09.
  14. ^ "《面对面》揭秘神十五乘组四次出舱细节". Weixin Official Accounts Platform. Archived from the original on 2023-08-17. Retrieved 2023-08-17.
  15. ^ "《面对面》揭秘神十五乘组四次出舱细节". Weixin Official Accounts Platform. Archived from the original on 2023-08-17. Retrieved 2023-08-17.
  16. ^ "官方|神舟十五号乘组刷新中国航天员单个乘组出舱活动纪录 工程全线加紧备战空间站应用与发展阶段首次飞行任务". Weixin Official Accounts Platform. Archived from the original on 2023-04-20. Retrieved 2023-04-16.
  17. ^ a b Jones, Andrew (2023-06-04). "China's Shenzhou 15 capsule lands safely with 3 Tiangong space station astronauts (video)". Space.com. Retrieved 2023-12-10.