Jump to content
This site uses cookies! Learn More

This site uses cookies!

You can find a list of those cookies here: mysite.com/cookies

By continuing to use this site, you agree to allow us to store cookies on your computer. :)

Sign in to follow this  
bootneck

Tiangong-1 and Shenzhou-8 Spacecraft - Great Wall Hobby (GWH) 1:48

Recommended Posts

Tiangong-1 and Shenzhou-8 Spacecraft


Great Wall Hobby (GWH) 1:48

l4804_tiangong1-shenzhou8_boxart_with_bm

History

During the early part of the 1970's China initiated a space programme, titled "Shunguang-1", with the intention of developing and using their own craft and astronauts for space exploration. The first astronauts were selected in April 1971 but nothing came of it and the project was cancelled.

The programme was restarted in 1985 with the intention of building their own space shuttle however, at that time, China did not have sufficient technological knowledge or experience for such an elaborate undertaking and the whole project was abandoned soon after.

In order to continue their commitment for an indigenous space programme, China decided to build a spacecraft developed from the Russian Soyuz craft. With Russian co-operation the Chinese spacecraft, to be known as Shenzhou (various derivations but most popular 'Devine Craft'), could be built at a reasonable cost and to less protracted timescales. After long consultations, designs and re-designs, they were finally able to authorise a new project entitled "Programme 921/1" in 1992. The Shenzhou spacecraft was larger than the Soyuz craft but still looked outwardly similar and had some additional features that the Soyuz did not have; namely it would have it's own engines and docking system to allow for independent docking with a space station.

the first craft, Shenzhou-1, was launched in November 1999 carried by a two-stage Long March rocket and was an unmanned test flight. Shenzhou-2 was launched in January 2001 and carried animals as part of the ongoing experiments towards eventually attaining manned spaceflight. Following improvements from lessons learned with the previous launches, Shenzhou-3 went into orbit in March 2002 and this time a test dummy was carried. A further launch with a test dummy, plus several onboard scientific experiments, was undertaken with Shenzhou-5 in December 2002.

On 15 October 2003 Shenzhou-6 became the first Chinese built and manned spacecraft to be launched into orbit. The craft was crewed by Yang Liwei who travelled 14 earth orbits before returning safely. This was final recognition that China had achieved the status of being only the third country to succeed in their own manned space flight programme, following the USSR and USA. A second manned flight followed in October 2005 with a two-manned Shenzhou-6 craft during a five day mission with Fei Junlong and Nie Haisheng as crew.

China continued in their advances in technology and aeronautical capability by building and launching a 3 man craft, Shenzhou-7. As with the other launches, this craft was carried atop a Long March 2F rocket and the crew consisted of Zhai Zhiguang as commander with crewmembers Liu Buoming and Jing Haipeng. Although this mission only lasted 3 days it was deemed very successful in that it achieved the first space walk (EVA), undertaken by Chinese astronauts.

The stage was now set for China to enter into the realms of building space stations, conducting experiments in space and looking beyond low-earth orbits in their quest for space travel. Two craft were to be built next; one would be a space station and the other a craft to dock and undock with it. The space station was titled Tiangong (Heavenly Palace) and the craft would be Shenzhou-8. The first space station, Tiangong-1 was launched 29 September 2011 and was placed into earth orbit in readiness to be docked with a spacecraft. Shenzhou-8 followed on 31 October and was an unmanned craft, the purpose of which was to test the abilility to automatically dock and undocking of a spacecraft with the space station. The tests went without a hitch and meant that the first manned mission to the space station was able to take place the following year with Shenzhou-9. Of special note for this mission was the first female Chinese crewmember Liu Yang.

To bring the Chinese Space Programme up to date, June of this year (2013) has seen the launch and rendezvous at Tiangong-1 by Shenzhou-10. The crew, consisting of commander Nie Haisheng, with Shang Xiaoguang and Wang Yaping, are the last astronauts to dock with Tiangong-1 as the space station has accomplished its mission and will now go into orbital decay and eventually make a destructive re-entry into the earth's atmosphere.

This is not the end of China's space station programme as two more space stations are being designed and constructed, with developments advancements learned from Tiangong-1, these will be named Tiangong-2 and Tiangong-3 respectively. They are due to be launched in 2015. Other Information from China is that they also have plans to start projects involving missions to the moon as from 2017 but such timescales currently look to be somewhat ambitious.

The kits

There are two complete kits in the box, one the Shenzhou-8 spacecraft and the other is the Tiangong-1 space station. The Shenzhou-8 kit is representative of the last development version of the Shenzhou spacecraft and has therefore become the standard design for future Shenzhou craft. This means that the kit can be built as version 8 or, with a few modifications, modelled as the 9 or latest 10 version. The box containing the kits is quite large, which would be expected for two 1:48 models, however there is no spare room within. There are 5 main sprues; two each for the Space Station and Spacecraft and one for the stand. There is also a small sprue containing connecting tubes for the solar panels.

All the sprues are produced in a nice, sturdy, light-grey plastic and this review model does not show any signs of flash or warping. Some of the connecting pins/sections to the sprue frame are rather thick and, in some places, are thicker than the component attached to them. This means there is a possibility that a clean cut to separate these components may be difficult and require some filing and shaping to get a clean edge.

Tiangong-1

Sprue A contains the larger parts of this space station, consisting of two fuselage halves and the solar panels. The surface detail is fair, with wiring and panel sections marked out in raised relief. It must be difficult to get full representation for this model as there isn't that much detail available of the actual vessels. Some of the reasons are that the craft are covered and enclosed on take-off plus, unlike the International Space Station and the Shuttles, there have not been any 'fly-bys' to get photographic details. Most of the images to be found available are mainly cgi drawing and generalised interpretations. The good new is that there are plenty of images available of the inside of the space station which means that this model can be extensively detailed inside if one wishes to do that.

sprue_a_03.jpg

sprue_a_04.jpg

The second sprue has the front end plate (docking section); tail end (small rockets) and various booster units and communication antennas. These pieces have some very nice detail on them including the docking approach/guidance panel and capture ring.

sprue_b_01.jpg

sprue_b_02.jpg

Shenzhou-8

The first sprue for the Shenzhou spacecraft, marked sprue C for this spacecraft, contains the Orbital Module; Service Module, with its solar panels, and a variety of thruster, booster, camera and antenna units for this spacecraft.

sprue_c_01.jpg

The solar panels are modelled in the extended mode and have detailed representations of the small sensor cells on one side and the cabling and connectors on the other side. The panels can be assembled with the ability to be positioned at various angles, as the real thing would be aimed at sunlight, with the use of a connecting piece which runs through the fuselage; a somewhat similar process as connecting a prop spinner of an aircraft kit through fuselage to a retaining ring inside.

sprue_c_02.jpg

The last sprue containing spacecraft parts has the Re-entry Module components; docking connector unit, base for the Service Module and its thrusters, plus hatch covers and other antenna pieces.

sprue_d_01.jpg

Although the kit parts are sparse internally, it is such a large kit that there is plenty of scope to detail these with a bit of scratchbuilding and looking up images and schematics on the web.

sprue_d_02.jpg

This kit comes with a rectangular base and two pedestals to hold the completed model, each craft has a hole for the tops of the pedestals to be set into. The base is a sturdy piece of plastic, as it needs to be for a model of this size and weight.

sprue_e_base_012.jpg

An interesting aspect for this base is that one of the plinths fits into a movable slider and this allows for the plinths to be positioned for best balance when seating the model on the base. There is a small cutout in the centre of the base which holds a very nice nameplate in raised Chinese script.

sprue_g_nameplate.jpg

One final sprue contains pieces to make the tubes which are used to interconnect the left and right solar panel arrays, through the fuselage, for both the Service Module and the Space Station. This should allow the solar panels to be positioned at different attitudes rather than just flat out.

sprue_f_plinths_02.jpg

Decals

Three small decal sheets accompany the kit; two for the space station and one for the re-entry module of the spacecraft.

decals_1.jpgdecals_3.jpgdecals_2.jpg

Instructions and Colour Details

The instruction and colour details are contained in an eight page booklet, with the introductory text in both chinese and english. It has the break down of parts and their assembly laid out in the illustrative method, which means the build process can be recognised internationally without the need to have elements of text translated into many languages. It also has some colourful details to help with markings and colours etc.

titles_01.jpg

titles_02.jpg

titles_05.jpg

Conclusion

I mentioned before that this is a large kit and it really does look as if it is going to be of sturdy construction when it is completed. The model depicts the Shenzhou-8 spacecraft but, as that craft was the final major design for this, any of the subsequent craft (currently Shenzhou-9 and 10) could be built as they have all docked with the space station Tiangong-1.

There is plenty of scope to add plenty of additonal detail internally, if you have that interest to research for the relevant information and images.

IPMS members will be fortunate in that they will have received this months subscription magazine which contains an excellent build review of this kit by Keith McNeil.

Finally, while checking the web for prices of this kit, I was pleasantly surprised at the retail price for such a large kit which should keep the space enthusiast happy for quite a while.

Highly recommended.

Review sample courtesy of logo.gif

Buy it Now bin.jpg

Kindly mention Britmodeller.com to the supplier when making enquiries or orders

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

First produce the kit - aftermarket producers should follow - Hopefully!!

Eduard and LVM-Studio both produced PE sets for Hasegawa's 1:48 Voyager space probe, so there's hope.

Mike

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You tempted me and I fell! Congratilations to Creative Models who, as I've said in two different places already, had the kit with me less than 24 hours after I ordered it. Service like that deserves to be shouted from the rooftops.

Do you reckon the sliding stand is designed so the model can be displayed either with the spacecraft docked together or station-keeping a few feet apart?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You tempted me and I fell! Congratilations to Creative Models who, as I've said in two different places already, had the kit with me less than 24 hours after I ordered it. Service like that deserves to be shouted from the rooftops.

Do you reckon the sliding stand is designed so the model can be displayed either with the spacecraft docked together or station-keeping a few feet apart?

Result!! Well done Gordon - we'll have to do a space gb (but we'll probably get beaten by Jetboy!!).

Interesting point about the sliding stand; I hadn't thought about that but well worth looking into it.

cheers

Mike

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×