BEIJING, Oct. 15 (Xinhuanet) -- As Shenzhou-5 departed from its rocket carrier
and entered into the preset orbit, the two pairs ofsolar panels stretched out
like huge wings, converting solar energy into electricity to power China's first
"With the functions of power supply and charging, the solar panels work
like a small power plant," explained Kong Xudong, chief designer of the solar
panels. As the spaceship is equipped with batteries with limited capacity, the
Sun will be the main source of energy supply.
The panels, built at a cost of more than 10 million yuan (over 1.2 million
US dollars), are made of the most advanced lightweightcomposite materials,
according to the expert.
The difficulty in designing and manufacturing lies in how to make the
panels adaptable to such uncertainties as the complicatedenvironment and the
dense plasma, atomic oxygen and ultraviolet irradiation in the low orbit, which
are harmful to the structure and chips of the panels.
The craft circles the Earth once every 90 minutes and has to stand the
tests of vast temperature differentials up to 180 degrees centigrade. This
requires the solution to the contraction and expansion problems of the materials
The experts said that they had developed a testing device that simulates
the space environment and used special materials to build the panels. Enditem