Tomorrow China will be launching Shenzhou 7 with three astronauts aboard, one of whom will perform the first Chinese extravehicular activity (EVA, or "space walk"). Here's some basic information on launch plans, but first, the most important piece: the launch will be streamed live on the Internet, with commentary in English, at CCTV 9. They're broadcasting lots of coverage of the upcoming launch there right now, and it's pretty interesting stuff. (As I write, though, they've moved on to other news.) For anyone out there who watches today, please feel free to send me any tidbits of interesting information you learn about the mission. A pronunciation note: the commentators on CCTV 9 speak Shenzhou as "shen joe," with either no accents or a very slight accent on the first syllable. Here's the Google translation of the official website for China's manned space program.
So here's some basic facts (thanks mostly to John Locker and some others on the FSPACE mailing list):
- The launch window is 1 hour 17 minutes long, starting at 21:10 local time on Thursday, September 25. (This is 13:10 UTC, 06:10 PDT.)
- The launch site is Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center; landing is in central Inner Mongolia. Jiuquan is a backup landing site.
- The nominal plan is for a 3-day mission, which can be extended to up to 5 days if necessary.
- The EVA will involve one crew member.
- I am not sure of the EVA time. One person has said 16:30 local time on Saturday, which would be 08:30 UTC, 01:30 PDT. I'd welcome confirmation (or correction) of this.