BEIJING, -- China's latest space tracking ship, Yuan Wang 7 , was formally commissioned on 12 July, according to Chinese media. Built by Jiangnan Shipbuilding, the vessel is 220 m long and displaces 25,000 tonnes. It is highly distinctive, featuring three large dish antennae around 10-12 m in diameter as well as an array of radomes and aerials.
Three other Yuan Wang-class ships (3, 5, and 6) are currently operated by the China Satellite Maritime Tracking and Control Department and are based at Jiangyin on the River Yangtze, near Shanghai.
The Yuan Wang-class ships supplement China's network of land-based tracking stations, which span the breadth of China's 4,500 km land mass.
However, tracking, telemetry, and command of satellites and other space vehicles typically require global coverage. China is constructing a tracking station in Argentina that is expected to become operational in 2017. The East Asian country also has access to facilities in Australia, Kenya, Namibia, and Pakistan.
The media reports state that Yuan Wang 7 will be used for tracking the Shenzhou-11 manned space mission planned for later this year. During previous Shenzhou launches, four Yuan Wang ships were positioned over a wide area to provide the required tracking.
China's latest space tracking ship, Yuan Wang 7, was formally commissioned on 12 July, according to Chinese media.