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China has begun the refueling tests between its first unmanned freighter, Tianzhou-1, docked to its test space station, Tiangong-2.
Refuelling tests began at 07:26 Beijing time on Sunday (23:26 UTC Saturday), monitored from the Beijing Aerospace Control Centre (BACC). The refuelling process involves 29 steps and will take five days to complete.
To allow refuelling to take place, the propellant tube and coupling components needed to be perfectly matched after docking, with a margin error of less than 1 millimetre, according to Tianzhou-1 deputy chief designer Chen Qizhong.
The mission involving the Tianzhou and Tiangong spacecraft was designed to prove on-orbit resupply and refuelling technologies and techniques necessary for safe, long-term operation of the Chinese Space Station, which will be permanently crewed by at least three astronauts.
“After refuelling is completed, the residual propellant needs to be drained off. In order to identify security issues during the draining process, it needs to go through a number of tests and verification,” Bai Mingsheng, chief designer of Tianzhou-1, told CCTV+
The article also provides a great deal of information on the station and the freighter.