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Chinese astronauts to spend 30 days in space


10-22-2016 05:35 BJT

Full coverage: China Tiangong-2 Space Lab Launch

The Shenzhou-11 manned spacecraft successfully completed automated docking with the Tiangong-2 space lab this week. Now the two are flying in tandem in an upright position, following an inverted flight position. The two Chinese astronauts, Jing Haipeng and Chen Dong will spend 30 days in space, which is twice the time of China's current longest record. And it is going to be a busy month for them.

The two astronauts have already started their routine work and exercise programs after entering the orbit module. At 6:30 a.m, Beijing Time, Jing and Chen woke up to start a whole day's work.

In the traveling space lab, the astronauts experience 16 sunsets and sunrises in just 24 hours. That means a day and night every 90 minutes. Despite the almost surreal condition, the two are still living according to Beijing Time. Experts say they have arranged a scientific working schedule to help the astronauts stay healthy.

"We perfected the schedule of working and sleeping. They now work six days and have one day off. This schedule will give them more freedom to adjust their work flexibly," said Huang Weifen, Dep. chief designer of Chinese Astronaut Research and Training Center.

The first task for the two was to plant lettuce seeds. This will be China's first full experiment on plants from seeding to harvesting in space. The space lettuce will be ready for harvest in 30 days for further research.

At 9:20 a.m, Jing and Chen fed the specially bred silkworms they brought to space. Jing brought out the first silkworm and gave it a zero-gravity flight. This experiment will allow Chinese scientists to study and compare how space affects the silkworms' growth patterns.

For the astronauts living on board, Tiangong-2 is equipped with more comfortable facilities than its predecessor. Designers considered many factors including the sound, lighting, decorations as well as support facilities. They even installed a specially designed treadmill to maintain the astronauts’ proper physical functions. It requires them to put a belt on, otherwise they would be moonwalking in zero-Gravity.

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