1. CHINA LAUNCHES CORE MODULE OF NEW SPACE STATION TO ORBIT - The construction of China's space station is underway. The core element of the Chinese Space Station launched to Earth orbit tonight (April 28), lifting off at 11:23 p.m. EDT (0323 GMT on April 29) atop a heavy-lift Long March 5B rocket from the Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Site on the island of Hainan.
  2. The orbit data is extracted from the following two-line orbital elements, 1 25544U 98067A 5462.0000-0 31118-4 0 9992 2 255 193.11 323.3863 134.40.
Space Station Orbit Tutorial

Track the location of the International Space Station in real-time. See the plotted paths of past, present and future orbits all from a single page. In 2022, the CSS will join the ISS as the only fully operational space stations currently in orbit. For two decades, ISS has been a symbol of space collaboration between various countries, with.

For the purposes of planning Earth observing photography or remote sensing, there are four important points about the orbits of the ISS. Particulars of the orbits depend on the exact altitude of the station, and the exact altitude depends on the frequency that the station is reboosted to a higher orbit.


The station travels from west to east on an orbital inclination of 51.6 degrees. Each orbit takes 90-93 minutes, depending on the exact altitude of the ISS. During that time, part of the Earth is viewed under darkness and part under daylight. The ISS orbital altitude drops gradually over time due to the Earth's gravitational pull and atmospheric drag. Periodic reboosts adjust the ISS orbit. As the ISS orbital altitude decays, the orbit tracks on Earth change slightly.


With each orbit taking 90-93 minutes, there are approximately 16 orbits per day (24 hours). The exact number of orbits per day is usually less than 16 (generally 15.5 to 15.9 orbits/day) depending on the altitude of the ISS. Each orbit shifts to the west by approximately 22.9° of longitude (measured as the position where the orbit crosses the equator).


There is an approximate repeat of orbit tracks over the same area on the ground every 3 days. Again, the ISS altitude will determine how closely the tracks repeat.

How High Is The Space Station Orbit


The part of the Earth visible to ISS astronauts in daylight changes due to the interaction between the orbit patterns of the station and the rotation of the Earth. The daylight portion of the orbits shifts slightly eastward along track each day. This lighting procession follows an approximate 63-day cycle from a descending track covering the mid-latitudes, to southern hemisphere lighting, to ascending tracks, to northern hemisphere lighting. This cycle, plus seasonal changes in solar incidence, cause the sun illumination angles to vary every time the station passes over a given region.
Cynthia A. Evans and Julie A. Robinson, Earth Sciences and Image Analysis, NASA Johnson Space Center
Space Station Orbit

by Xinhua writer Wang Chenxi

BEIJING, May 7 (Xinhua) -- China sent the core module of its space station into a planned orbit on April 29. The space station has a designed lifespan of ten years, but designers believe it could last more than 15 years with appropriate maintenance and repairs.

The space station will face various threats and challenges in the cosmos, such as atomic oxygen, ultraviolet radiation, vacuums, temperature changes, space debris, and microgravity.

These may cause the material performance to decline or induce failures, thus shortening the service life of products and equipment such as extravehicular cables, surface coatings, and optical lenses.

Space Station Orbit Altitude

According to Zhou Jianping, chief designer of China's manned space program, maintainability is one of the space station's advantages compared with its predecessors. Maintenance and repairs can ensure the technological upgrade and long-term and reliable operation of the space station.

'To ensure the service life of the space station in orbit reaches 15 years, we have taken long life, reliability, maintainability, and safety into consideration in the design stage,' said Hou Yongqing. Hou is a deputy chief designer of the space station system at the China Academy of Space Technology (CAST), under the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation.

Space Station Orbit

Based on the long life and reliability of the system and products in the space station, the designers prepared in-orbit fault diagnosis, response plans, and maintainability design, Hou added.

'We will store the backup of the important equipment in orbit, and if this equipment fails, astronauts will directly replace the faulty one with the backup,' said Bai Linhou, another deputy chief designer at the CAST.

Bai added that if something is wrong with the software program, the engineers can prepare the modified program on the ground, upload it to the space station by fast-speed space-ground link, and overwrite the faulty program.

The space station has a health sub-system to ensure long service life, including monitoring the payloads and station's structural state in real time, locating space debris, and sending alerts to ground and astronauts for quick response.

The sub-system can also monitor the pressure inside the cabin and send alerts at different levels according to various pressure indicators.

Hao Chun, director of the China Manned Space Agency (CMSA), said the in-orbit maintenance and change of payloads would become astronauts' regular work to extend the service life of the space station.

Space Station Live Web Cams

'We have developed a series of ground training facilities and equipment for astronauts' missions, such as extravehicular activities, extravehicular repairs and maintenance, and equipment replacement,' he said. Enditem

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