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China Launches Tianzhou-3 Supply Ship to Space Station

By Doug Messier
Parabolic Arc
September 20, 2021
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Launch of the Long March 7 rocket. (Credit: Su Dong)

WENCHANG, China (CASC PR) — At 15:10 on September 20th, on the eve of the Chinese traditional Mid-Autumn Festival, the Long March 7 carrier rocket soared into the sky and successfully lifted the Tianzhou-3 cargo spacecraft to the sky with the “Mid-Autumn Gift Package” from the motherland. The spacecraft was placed into an accurate orbit.

This launch is the second practical flight of the cargo transportation system during the verification phase of the key technology of my country’s space station construction. After the Communist Party of China achieved its first centenary goal and moved towards the second centenary goal of building a modern socialist country in an all-round way, the launch of Tianzhou-3 became a crucial battle in the construction phase of my country’s space station.

The Tianzhou cargo spacecraft is an important part of China’s space station project. It was developed by the Fifth Academy of China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation. Its function is to transport materials, refuel and remove waste for the space station.

Tianzhou-3 undertook the second application cargo mission during the construction phase of the space station, with a launch weight of about 12 tons and a transport of about 5.6 tons of materials. Carry astronaut crew normal and emergency stay consumables, a set of extravehicular space suits and out-of-vehicle consumables, platform materials, propellants and part of the test load, etc., of which the normal staying living materials are 3 people for 180 days. The emergency reserve of supplies is 3 people for 10 days.

During the docking period, Tianzhou-3 has the ability to provide attitude and orbit control for the space station, with two-way grid-connected power supply and information grid-connected capabilities, and can provide attitude and orbit control support, power support, and information interaction support for the space station.

This mission is the 389th launch of the Long March series of carrier rockets.