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Henan firms celebrate space success

By Shi Baoyin and Li Yang | China Daily | Updated: 2016-10-28 08:49

The successful launch of the Shenzhou XI spacecraft on Oct 17 and its automatic docking with the Tiangong II space lab two days later has brought China one step closer to its objective of building a space station.

Chen Dong, one of the two astronauts aboard Shenzhou XI, became the second Henan province native to travel in space, after Liu Yang, who was also China's first female astronaut, which is a source of great pride to people in the province associated with the project.

The visors on the astronaut's helmets and related plastic components, some of the most important components in space suits, are the fruits of research conducted by the National Engineering Research Center for Rubber Plastic Mould Technology at Zhengzhou University in the central province.

"We have made three kinds of visors. The first two were used in Shenzhou VII and IX, and the third was made for Shenzhou XI," said Liu Chuntai, the center's deputy director.

"The latest mission has much tougher requirements than before, in that the plastic materials must be able to tolerate the -80 C temperature in space."

The two astronauts will live in the Tiangong II space lab for a month, fed by 19 different food produced by the Yongda Group in Hebi, Henan, which specializes in chicken-based meals.

According to Zheng Guimin, deputy manager of the group's external communications department, Yongda also provided main meals and snacks for Shenzhou VII, IX and Xl.

Di Wenge, Yongda's president, said: "So far, the company has produced 47 kinds of food characteristic of Henan for the space missions. They are all popular with the astronauts."

Researchers from Zhongyuan Dahua Co also took part in the research and development of the sound-absorbing foam plastic materials used in Tiangong II.

Meanwhile, Henan Aerospace Precision Work Co, in Xinyang, provided nearly 90 percent of the high-performance fasteners for the Shenzhou series of spacecraft.

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