Latest from the Chinese Space Station (CSS)
Just days after Beijing celebrated the Chinese Communist Party’s hundredth anniversary, Taikonauts aboard the Tiangong, or ‘Heavenly Palace’, completed an incredible feat of engineering.
A seven-hour spacewalk to set up cameras and other equipment using a robotic arm. This is a significant technical achievement since China’s last spacewalk in 2008, which lasted 20 minutes.
In addition to EVA’s, Taikonauts Liu Boming and Tang Hongbo and Nie Haisheng activated systems, performed experiments, and prepared two new science modules for their laboratory, which are expected to join the CSS in 2022 to extend the station for various scientific and technological endeavors. Long-term plans include 14 internal experiment racks and 50 external ports for studies of the space environment.
This mission, a short three-month stay, is the first of eleven to finish construction of the seventy-ton station by the end of next year.
Planned International Experiments Onboard the CSS
Recently, China announced the selection of nine experiments to begin once the station is fully operational.
Scientists working on the projects come from spacefaring nations around the world. Russia, Japan, India, Kenya, Mexico, and Peru — the result of a special effort to encourage participation from both modernized and developing nations.
“The cooperation takes into account the special needs of developing countries, which were encouraged to submit joint project applications with developed countries,” said Wang Qun, China’s ambassador to the United Nations in Vienna, in a statement.
One particular experiment caught our attention. A group of European institutions will study how microgravity and radiation in space affect the mutation of DNA in human ‘organoids’ — 3D biological structures that mimic organs — aboard the Chinese Space Station.
Latest from the ISS
In a similar study, astronauts aboard the ISS recently performed the first successful CRISPR-cas9 genome editing experiment in space.
Sarah Castro-Wallace, a researcher at NASA JSC and co-author of the study commented, “The ability to perform this all-encompassing, end-to-end investigation is a huge step forward for space biology.”