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China's first 'fine wind forecast system' used to transport rocket

Article Republished By Javier Troconis

The Tianzhou-4 cargo spacecraft was transported vertically, with the Long March-7 Y5 carrier rocket attached, to the Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Site in south China’s Hainan Province, May 7, 2022. /Xinhua

The Tianzhou-4 cargo spacecraft was transported vertically, with the Long March-7 Y5 carrier rocket attached, to the Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Site in south China’s Hainan Province, May 7, 2022. /Xinhua

China has, for the first time, realized an accurate prediction of near-surface wind in the Earth’s atmosphere ahead of a major space launch mission, according to the Xichang Satellite Launch Center.

Dubbed the ‘fine wind forecast system,’ the forecast system essentially allows people to gauge whether the weather ‘will be fine’ at 100 meters above the Earth’s surface. According to the center, it was used to ensure the transfer of the Tianzhou-4 cargo spacecraft and the Long March-7 Y5 carrier rocket to the Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Site.

Developed by the center’s meteorological tech support team, the system is vital in ensuring the safe and smooth transfer of spacecraft and rockets.

The 18-story high Long March carrier rocket is not filled with fuel before arriving at the launch site, but a cargo spacecraft sits atop it. “The rocket could easily lose balance once the wind gets too hard,” said Zhang Xiaojie, the engineer of the meteorological system at the center.

Therefore, a precise forecast of near-surface wind is particularly needed when transporting it vertically in coastal regions.

Located in south China’s Hainan Province, the Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Site is the country’s fourth launch site and the only one by the seaside.

The forecast system can provide real-time visual weather forecasts based on the latest meteorological information of the near-surface wind, with three-dimensional simulation images, as well as change parameters of wind power and direction.

The system has been in development since 2018 and passed the final inspection and approval in April this year.

The center said the new forecast system performed well during its first application in the transfer mission.

The facilities and equipment at the launch site are in good condition, and various prelaunch function checks and joint tests will be carried out as planned before the launch of the Tianzhou-4 cargo spacecraft soon.

(With input from Xinhua)

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