Tianzhou-1 completes 3rd refueling of Tiangong-2

A quick holiday fund-raising campaign for Behind the Black!
Scroll down to read this post.
In past years I have managed to avoid asking for donations for Behind the Black during the holiday season. My finances however now compel me to do a short one-week fund-raiser, from November 11 to November 17.
I do not use Twitter for ethical reasons, which I have been told cuts down on traffic to the website. So be it. Furthermore, Facebook has clearly acted in the past two years to limit traffic to Behind the Black, almost certainly for political reasons. So be this as well. Finally, I do not post outside ads, as I have found them annoying to my readers and not that profitable to me.


Therefore, I need to ask for the direct support from my readers. If you like what I do here, please consider contributing, either by making a one-time donation or a monthly subscription, as indicated in the tip jar below.


Regular readers can support Behind The Black with a contribution via paypal:

Or with a subscription with regular donations from your Paypal or credit card account:

If Paypal doesn't work for you, you can support Behind The Black directly by sending your donation by check, payable to Robert Zimmerman, to
Behind The Black
c/o Robert Zimmerman
P.O.Box 1262
Cortaro, AZ 85652


Or you could consider purchasing one of my books, as indicated in the boxes scattered throughout the website. My histories of space exploration are award-winning and are aimed for the general public. All are page-turners, and all not only tell the story of the beginning of the human exploration of space, they also help explain why we are where we are today. And I also have a science fiction book available, Pioneer, which tells its own exciting story while trying to predict what life in space will be like two hundred years in the future.


Note that for this week only I am also having a sale on the purchase of the last 20 hardbacks of Leaving Earth. (Click on the link for more information about the book, which was endorsed by Arthur C. Clarke himself!) This award-winning out-of-print book is now only available as an ebook, but I still have a handful of hardbacks available, normally for sale for $70 plus $5 shipping. For this week only you can buy them, personally autographed by me, for $50 plus $5 shipping! Just send me a check, payable to Robert Zimmerman, to the address above, with a note saying that the money is for the Leaving Earth hardback.


Please consider donating. Your help will make it possible for me to continue to be an independent reporter in the field of space, science, technology, and culture.

China’s test cargo freighter Tianzhou-1 has completed its third refueling test on test space station module Tiangong-2, and has undocked for the last time.

Both will spend a bit more time in orbit, after which they will be deorbited to burn up in the atmosphere.



  • wodun

    Seems kind of wasteful. Even if it was just an empty shell, the station could be useful.

  • Chris L

    My guess is the station module wasn’t really functional. Sounds like the Chinese were more interested in getting the kinks out of the refueling process. It could be they are planning some long term stuff.

  • Chris L: The Tiangong-2 module was used for a 30 day manned mission. While there are reasons why it might not be useful to keep it in orbit, I tend to think this is an example of government wastefulness. If it was up to me, I would keep it up there so that it could be attached to the full station when its modules begin launching in the next few years.

  • Max

    Perhaps they will bring it down over China so all that fuel and metal burning across the sky will provide a beautiful light show for the taxpayers. You know, a Chinese fireworks tradition.

    I would’ve left the two craft together using the fuel of one to place them in a useful orbit for a emergency air/food/fuel depot or for storage for materials on their new station. They could’ve used it for experiments outside of their normal space station for dangerous projects, or just use the fuel to slingshot around the moon and back and then reentry.
    Like Wodum said, wasteful…

  • Andrew Jones

    As I understand it, Tiangong-2 space lab will be kept in orbit for some time to come (years, if possible), continuing experiments including a gamma ray burst detector. Tianzhou-1 will be deorbited as part of tests for its intended roles of supplying, refuelling, and removing waste from the future Chinese space station. South Pacific is the area the Chinese are targeting for Tianzhou-1 reentry. No info from the manned space agency in charge, but this could happen before the end of the month.

  • To my readers: Andrew Jones speaks with authority. I don’t know his sources, but his articles at GBTimes about the Chinese space program tend to be the most detailed and accurate of any published.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *