China launches new research satellite into space

Science and Tech

China launched its 25th retrievable scientific research satellite on Wednesday for the purpose of experiments in a microgravity environment.

The satellite, named SJ-10, was transported on the back of a Long March 2-D rocket, which took off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwestern China’s Gobi desert. The satellite mission has been designed to last for 15 days before returning to Earth.

A trinity of countries worldwide, namely China, Russia, and the U.S., possess the technology of sending a satellite in space then guiding it back home.

While in space, the bullet-shaped probe will house 19 experiments involving microgravity fluid physics, and microgravity combustion before bringing the results back to Earth.

The spacecraft is manned by two people, chosen from 200 candidates who initially trained for the mission. Preparation work for the craft and its on-board experiments has taken about 10 years.

Preparing the satellite for launch.

Preparation work for the craft and the on-board experiments spanned for a decade.

Conducting tests in outer space are valuable because they can draw larger conclusions that are not skewed by the Earth’s gravitational pull.

“Microgravity condition promises genuine breakthrough in physics”, said Hu Wenrui, chief scientist of the SJ-10 mission.

“The condition can facilitate studies of a number of fundamental issues in physics such as gravitational waves”, said Hu.

Gravitational waves are “ripples” in the space-time fabric. Detected for the first time in 2015, almost a century after theoretical physicist Albert Einstein brought the notion into existence, they bear “key information” for deciphering origins of the Universe.

Apart from physics-related experiments, the SJ-10 is also tasked with tests regarding life in space.

In an attempt to shed light on human reproduction in space, one experiment focuses on early-stage development of mouse embryos in microgravity. Another test will study the effects of space radiation on genetic stability in fruit flies and rat cells.

“All experiments conducted on SJ-10 are completely novel and had never been done before either at home or abroad,” said Hu.

Story from CCTV News.