Astronauts given comfort upgrade on China’s new space lab

Astronauts given comfort upgrade on China’s new space lab

Beijing, Sep 17 (IANS) China’s newest space laboratory, Tiangong II, will provide more comfort upgrades to astronauts living aboard than its predecessor, Tiangong I, the spacecraft’s designers said.

Zhu Zongpeng, chief designer of Tiangong II at China Academy of Space Technology, said designers aimed to create an astronaut-friendly environment in every regard when they refitted the space lab that was developed based on Tiangong I, the People’s Daily reported on Saturday.

“We considered many factors including the sound, lighting, inner decorations as well as support facilities. For instance, we installed a foldable, multifunctional table that can be used for dining and experiments. We also equipped the astronauts with Bluetooth headsets and speakers,” he said.

“A number of particulars were taken into account — the carpet in Tiangong I was replaced with floorboards. The light is softer and its brightness can be adjusted. Each astronaut has a bed lamp,” Zhu added.

The Tiangong II consists of two cabins with separate functions — the experiment cabin will be hermetically sealed and will act as the astronauts’ living quarters, while the resource cabin will contain solar panels, storage batteries, propellant and engines.

Liao Jianlin, a senior engineer at the academy who took part in Tiangong II’s development, said the lab has about 15 sq.mt for astronauts to live and work, including a separate sleep section and waste storage area.

He said engineers installed muffler devices in the spacecraft to ensure its inner sound is kept under 50 decibels. Environmental controls will keep the temperature within the experiment cabin between 22 and 24 degrees Celsius and the humidity between 45 and 55 per ent.

In addition, Tiangong II has an air detector capable of checking for and dealing with more than 20 hazardous gases and microbes.

Furthermore, designers placed exercise equipment in the space lab such as a treadmill, exercise bike and acupuncture point massager to help astronauts maintain a healthy routine, according to Liao.

He said its communications systems also allow astronauts to receive and reply to emails and make calls to family and friends.

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