China’s first unmanned freighter successfully docks with test station

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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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