© Reuters. Long March-7, Y4 rocket carrying Tianzhou-3 cargo spacecraft and supplies for China’s space station under construction, launches from Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Center, Wenchang in Hainan, China, September 20, 2021. China Daily v
BEIJING (Reuters) – A Chinese robotic resupply cargo spacecraft successfully docked with an orbiting space station module on Monday in the fourth of 11 missions needed to finish building China’s first permanent space station by the end of next year.
State media reported that a Long March-7 rocket carrying Tianzhou-3 or the “Heavenly vessel” in Chinese launched at 3:10 pm Beijing time (710 GMT) from Wenchang Space Launch Center.
At 1408 GMT, it successfully connected with the Tianhe core module of the station.
Tianzhou-3 is expected to deliver fuel and other supplies for the three astronauts that will travel to Tianhe in October. They will spend six months in Tianzhou-3, the fifth mission of the series. This would also be the final year for the program.
China is planning to launch two core modules, Wentian or Mengtian, for its space station next year. They will be launched on Long March 5B Rockets which are China’s largest space transport vehicle.
China started building its three-module space station with Tianhe’s deployment in April. Then came a three month crewed mission which ended last week.
After completion of the station, it will surpass the International Space Station, which is backed in part by Russia, Japan and the United States. The United States barred China from the ISS.
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