Tag Archives: Tianzhou-1

China successfully completes third robotic docking

China’s Tianzhou-1 test cargo freighter successfully completed its third docking with the prototype test space station module Tiangong-2 today.

Commands for the rendezvous and docking were issued at 17:24 Beijing time, according to the China Manned Space Agency, with the new ‘fast’ process taking 6.5 hours to complete.

Previously the rendezvous and docking process took around two days, or 30 orbits. The breakthrough will be used to allow crewed Shenzhou craft to reach the future Chinese Space Station (CSS) much sooner after launch.

Tianzhou-1 will soon perform a third and final refuelling test with Tiangong-2, before the cargo spacecraft is carefully deorbited over the South Pacific.

No word yet on when China might resume launches however. Since the July launch failure of their largest rocket, Long March 5, the country has launched nothing. There have also been stories that suggest the planned December launch of their Chang’e 5 lunar mission will be delayed now until the spring.

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China’s Tianzhou-1 completes second docking test

Tianzhou-1, China’s first unmanned cargo freighter, has successfully completed its second docking with the test space station module Tiangong-2.

The two spacecraft will next separate, fly independent of each other for three months, when Tianzhou-1 will attempt a third more difficult docking attempt.

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China’s Tianzhou-1 freighter completes second refueling test

Tianzhou-1, China’s first unmanned freighter, has successfully completed its second refueling test while docked with that country’s Tiangong-2 space module.

The test was successfully completed at 18:28 Beijing time on June 15th (10:28 UTC), according to an announcement (Chinese) from the China Manned Space Agency (CMSA).

Tianzhou-1 and the Tiangong-2 space station test bed module have been coupled for 54 days in orbit at around 390 kilometres above the Earth since April 22, following launch of Tianzhou-1 on April 20.

A first 29-step, five-day refuelling process was successfully concluded on April 27, marking a major step in China’s space station plans. The second test is understood to have taken two days.

The freighter will next undock, fly free for several months, and then attempt a third docking, this time doing so in only six hours versus the two day maneuvers it has so far completed.

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Refueling tests begin on Chinese test space station

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.

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China’s first unmanned freighter successfully docks with test station

Tianzhou-1, China’s first unmanned space freighter, today successfully docked with that nation’s test station module, Tiangong-2.

Tianzhou-1, China’s first cargo spacecraft, which was launched Thursday evening from Wenchang Space Launch Center in south China’s Hainan Province, began to approach Tiangong-2 automatically at 10:02 a.m. Saturday and made contact with the space lab at 12:16 p.m.

The Tianzhou-1 cargo ship and Tiangong-2 space lab will have another two dockings. The second docking will be conducted from a different direction, which aims to test the ability of the cargo ship to dock with a future space station from different directions. In the third docking, Tianzhou-1 will use fast-docking technology. It normally takes about two days to dock, while fast docking will take only six hours.

This testing program by China is very well thought out. They are performing a whole range of docking tests, and they are doing it with an unmanned prototype station that well simulates the full scale station they eventually plan to build.

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China launches first unmanned freighter in test flight

China today successfully launched its first unmanned cargo freighter, Tianzhou-1.

After entering orbit, according to CCTV-Plus interviews with Chinese space officials, Tianzhou-1 is slated to conduct a first docking with Tiangong-2 in a few days. The two spacecraft will then have a two-month in-orbit flight to test the liquid-propellant refueling as well as the cargo spaceship’s control of the combined vehicles, CMSA officials said.

The two spacecraft will also fly separately for three months, during which time the cargo spaceship will complete its own space science experiments. Then the two will have the third docking to test the automatic fast-docking technology, a test to complete the docking within 6 hours.

This was also the second launch of their most powerful rocket, Long March 7, and the second launch from their new spaceport at Wenchang.

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China launches advanced communications satellite

China today successfully launched an experimental communications satellite, outfitted to test the use of ion engine attitude thrusters as well as ground-to-orbit laser communications tests.

The article also outlines China’s busy launch schedule in April, which will include the launch and first test flight of their Tianzhou-1 cargo freighter. That flight will test the freighter’s ability to rendezvous and dock with their Tiangong-2 test space station module. This article notes that the freighter has been mounted on its Long March 7 rocket in preparation for launch in mid-April.

Posted in the air, now past Nova Scotia and moving into the Atlantic.

I must say that I am very glad to get out of Newark Airport. Though they have recently upgraded the airport, they have done so at the cost of providing affordable services to the traveler. All the restaurants there are very over-priced, and provide tiny portions. I actually ended up eating two dinners at two different restaurants in order to get enough food, and paid almost $40 for the pleasure. In addition, the tip was automatically added to the bill. I had no choice about that, even though the service was routinely bad. (They had installed tablets at every table so that you could order by computer. Getting a waiter to provide water however was practically impossible, and when I did get one they were slow to bring it.)

In addition, there were no fast food restaurants, which I normally avoid but would have been a far better choice in this case.

Newark is part of the New York urban area, a decidedly leftwing Democratic enclave. Thus, I am not surprised that things there cost too much, provided poor service, and also provided few choices.

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A glimpse at China’s unmanned cargo freighter

The competition heats up: A Chinese state media report just released included footage showing China’s unmanned cargo freighter, Tianzhou-1, as engineers prepare it for its April launch to their test space station module, Tiangong-2.

Two important take-aways from this report. First, note in the simulation showing the docking of the freighter to Tiangong-2 the size comparison. The two craft are almost the same size, showing that Tiangong-2 really is nothing more than a test module, not large enough for long sustained space station operations. The freighter meanwhile is quite substantial.

Second, the report says they are aiming for a 2018 launch of the first module of their full size station.

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China’s next manned mission

The competition heats up: The next Chinese manned mission will occur in the fall of 2016 and will have the astronauts remain in space for 30 days on a new space station launched during the summer.

After the astronauts have completed their flight, China will then launch their first unmanned cargo craft, dubbed Tianzhou-1, to dock with the station, using a new medium-lift rocket, Long March 7, which will get its first test flight this coming June.

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China’s next space station will also receive unmanned freighters

The competition heats up: The chief engineer of China’s manned program revealed that they are building an unmanned cargo freighter for their next space station, Tiangong-2, with both scheduled for launch in 2016.

Essentially the Chinese are repeated the steps the Russians took, adding docking ports to each new station module. The second will have two docking ports, one for manned craft and the second for cargo. Later modules will have multiple ports to which additional modules can be added.

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