Following a launch from coastal Wenchang launch facility of China, Tianzhou-3 cargo spacecraft connected in orbit together with Tianhe space station module on Monday. At 3:10 a.m. Eastern on September 20, the Long March 7 rocket launched from Wenchang. After 597 seconds, Tianzhou-3 split from the second stage, entering orbit and on its way to join up with Tianhe.
During a live broadcast, Deng Hongqin, who is the director in charge of Xichang Satellite Launch Center, that oversees Wenchang, pronounced the launch a full success. At 10:08 p.m. Eastern, the uncrewed Tianzhou-3 spacecraft conducted quick automatic rendezvous as well as docking maneuvers with Tianhe, according to CCTV. After reaching orbit, this spacecraft performed 6 orbital maneuvers to approach Tianhe.
As the building of China’s space station progresses, Tianzhou-3 is transporting roughly 6 tons of supplies for future crewed Shenzhou-13 mission. The cargo is mostly new supplies for the astronauts on board for what is going to be longest human spaceflight trip of China yet. Experiments and equipment are among the other payloads.
Early October will see the launch of the 6-month-long Shenzhou-13 voyage from Jiuquan situated in Gobi Desert. For some time, the spaceship, as well as its Long March 2F space craft, has remained in a state of preparedness at Jiuquan, allowing for a quick response in the event of an emergency in orbit. One of China’s two female astronauts is said to be part of the team. Wang Yaping, who is a veteran of the Shenzhou-10 mission in 2013, is preparing for flights to the International Space Station. The Tianzhou-3 expedition is the number four for Chinese space station’s construction. Tianhe, the station’s 22.5-ton initial module, deployed late April 28 and is presently orbiting at 386 by 380 kilometers in a 41.5-degree inclined orbit.
Shenzhou-12, the first crewed expedition, docked at Tianhe for 90 days and returned to Earth on September 17th. Following that, the Tianzhou-2 spacecraft that delivered the crew with equipment and supplies undocked from Tianhe’s aft port and performed forward docking maneuvers and circumnavigation, clearing the way for Tianzhou-3. Tianzhou-3 and Tianzhou-2 is going to remain docked with Tianhe (“harmony of the heavens”), a 16.6-meter-long, 4.2-meter-diameter ship until Shenzhou-13 arrives. This necessitates a radial, or R-Bar, docking and rendezvous with the Tianhe’s nadir docking port by the Shenzhou spacecraft. Before returning to Earth, Shenzhou-12 practiced the more difficult radial rendezvous without docking in preparation for this stage. At 200 and 19 meters, the spaceship approached and came to a halt.
Before deorbiting, Tianzhou-2 will conduct a verification assessment of the space station’s primary robotic arm. The arm will be put to the test by manipulating modules on the Tianhe docking hub’s lateral rings. By the end of 2022, China plans to launch 11 missions to finish the 3-module Tiangong Chinese space station that possesses 66-metric-ton. The technology verification and validation will conclude with Tianzhou-3 and Shenzhou-13.
Testing systems including regenerative life support, robotic arms, radial rendezvous, propellant transfer, solar energy systems at the forward as well as aft docking ports and extravehicular activities are all part of key technology verification.