Tianzhou-1 completes 3rd refueling of Tiangong-2

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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.

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