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China Readies Its First Retrievable Science Satellite for Launch

Feb. 26, 2016 (EIRNS)—China’s Shijian-10 satellite arrived at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center on Feb. 24, to be prepared for an April lift-off. It will be the first satellite China has launched that will conduct scientific experiments in microgravity, and then return to Earth with the completed experiments. It is a 15-day mission. The 19 experiments onboard the satellite include studies of combustion, new materials, radiation effects on DNA and genetics, and biotechnology, Chinese press reported. There is also an experiment, Soret Coefficient in Crude Oil, on the satellite, which is a collaboration with the European Space Agency (ESA), and France’s Total Oil Company, which aims to investigate the behavior of oil under high pressure. There are 11 institutes of China’s Academy of Sciences involved in the experiments, along with six Chinese universities, ESA, and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).

Unlike most other satellites, which have a faring, or covering around them during launch, to protect the satellite and its sensitive instruments from the challenging environment of launch, Shijian-10 does not need a faring. Because it has to withstand reentry through the atmosphere, so the experiments can be retrieved and brought back to Earth for study, the spacecraft is being built to withstand the high temperatures, high speeds, and high pressure of reentry, undoubtedly using technology developed to allow an ICBM to come back through the atmosphere.