China’s inaugural space station simulators have commenced preliminary operations, providing researchers with a convenient means to examine equipment like satellite components and spacesuits.
Located in the northeastern city of Harbin, the simulators are meticulously designed to replicate conditions found beyond Earth’s atmosphere.
China Space News, a news outlet affiliated with China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, reports that they simulate microgravity, feeble magnetic fields, electromagnetic radiation, plasma, and space debris.
This endeavor also referred to as the “ground space station,” emerged from a collaboration between the corporation and the Harbin Institute of Technology (HIT), as disclosed in the report by China Space News on Friday.
Compared to conducting experiments in space laboratories, the simulators offer a more cost-effective, secure, and convenient alternative.
“In the future, numerous experiments that necessitate space travel can be conducted on Earth,” stated Yan Jihong, the deputy dean of HIT’s Institute of Space Environment and Material Science, in an interview with state news agency Xinhua at the end of last month.
Li Liyi, dean of the space environment institute, explained that the ultimate objective of the “ground space station” was to construct a platform for fundamental scientific research on Earth, mirroring the actual conditions of outer space.
Xinhua quoted Li as saying, “To venture farther, remain longer, and delve deeper into space, we must acquire a more comprehensive understanding of the space environment.”
Each chamber within the simulator replicates distinct sets of conditions. Notably, one of the chambers imitates the environment of the lunar surface.
As reported by the state broadcaster CCTV, scientists can employ this lunar simulator to study the formation of lunar dust and its impact on spacecraft, spacesuits, and astronauts. The findings will contribute to preparations for China’s future crewed lunar landings.
Lin Xiqiang, deputy director of the China Manned Space Agency, stated that China aims to achieve its first lunar crewed mission by 2030.
In May, Lin declared that work on the lunar landing phase of the country’s crewed exploration program was already underway.
Research and development efforts encompass all relevant systems, including the novel Long March 10 carrier rocket, spacecraft, lunar surface landers, and lunar landing suits.
Among the simulators is the integrated radiation environment chamber, which closely mimics the actual conditions of space.
It will facilitate research and testing of satellite and spacecraft components, as revealed by CCTV.
Additionally, the magnetic chamber replicates a near-zero magnetic field, providing the ideal experimental environment for testing various equipment prior to launch.
“With the establishment of this simulation infrastructure, our aim is to attract distinguished scientists from all corners of the world to engage in cutting-edge scientific research,” remarked Li in an interview with CCTV.
Xinhua further reported that apart from Chinese researchers, institutions from over 30 countries have signed user agreements for these advanced facilities.
China’s ambitious goals in the space race have led to the creation of these state-of-the-art simulators.
As the nation strives to compete with Western counterparts like the United States, it invests in developing technology and infrastructure to advance its scientific understanding of the space environment.
By providing a safe and cost-effective means for conducting experiments and testing equipment, these simulators pave the way for groundbreaking research and exploration beyond our planet’s boundaries.