Automated cargo spacecraft Tianzhou-5: The fastest delivery service in space

The Long March-7 Y6 rocket carried the automated cargo spacecraft Tianzhou-5 into its planned orbit, and the spacecraft then successfully rendezvoused and docked with the Chinese space station.

automated cargo spacecraft Tianzhou-5 fastest delivery service in space

The Long March-7 Y6 rocket carried the automated cargo spacecraft Tianzhou-5 into its planned orbit, and the spacecraft then successfully rendezvoused and docked with the Chinese space station.

The meaning of the move can never be overestimated. It is the first time that Chinese astronauts have received an automated cargo spacecraft in the space station complex, which means they are able to get supplies 400 kilometers above the ground. The service time of Chinese astronauts has already been prolonged from three months in 2021 to longer than five months in 2022. The cargo spaceship will make it possible for Chinese astronauts to stay even longer in space.

The rocket carrying Tianzhou-5 took off at 10:03 am, was announced a success at 10:21, and finished docking with the space station complex at 12:17. In other words, it took less than two hours for Tianzhou-5 to finish the docking job, which sets a new record for space missions.

The fact that a cargo spaceship could arrive within such a short time has also enhanced the Chinese space station’s capability of getting supplies in case of an emergency. Astronauts can not only enjoy fresh fruit and vegetables in space, but also be sent back to the Earth for treatment should they suffer a medical emergency.

Besides the Tianzhou-5, the carrier Long March-7 Y6, which belongs to the Long March-7 series, also marks a progress in China’s space technology. It was in 2017 that Long March-7 first carried Tianzhou-1 into space. Now five years have passed and the number of Tianzhou has already been updated to 5, during which period the technology of the Long March-7 rockets has constantly progressed.

According to China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, in the Long March-7 Y6 alone there are six technology improvements that boost the rocket’s reliability.

2022 is of great importance to China’s astronautics, as there are six key missions this year, including the docking of the Mengtian and Wentian lab modules with the core module of the space station, two Tianzhou cargo spaceships and two Shenzhou manned spaceships. By far, five of the missions have already been successfully conducted, which marks a good start for China’s space station. With the complex entering normal operations, there will be more flights in the future, promising a good future for China’s astronautics industry.

Originally published at China Daily