A Chinese cargo ship docked at the country’s under-construction space station on Tuesday before a new crew of three is expected to arrive next month.
The Tianzhou-4 spacecraft was launched at 1:56 a.m. (11:26 p.m.) from the Wenchang launch base in the southern island province of Hainan on a Long March-7 Y5 rocket. State media said it docked with the station about seven hours later.
The cargo ship carries supplies for the next crew’s six-month stay, as well as research equipment and spare parts for station maintenance.
The station’s final crew returned to Earth last month after six months on the station, China’s longest space mission to date.
China intends to complete construction of the station this year by adding two laboratory modules in July and October to connect with the Tianhe residential module launched in April 2021. Another cargo ship, the Tianzhou-3, remains docked at the station.
China’s space program put its first astronaut into orbit in 2003, making China the third country after the former Soviet Union and the United States to do so of its own accord.
It has landed robotic rovers on the moon and placed one on Mars last year. China has also returned samples from the moon, and officials have discussed a possible manned mission to the moon.
The government announced in 2020 that China’s first reusable spacecraft had landed after a test flight, but no photos or details were released.
China is being banned from the International Space Station because the US fears its space program is being run by the military wing of the ruling Communist Party, the People’s Liberation Army.
The Shenzhou 14 manned mission is scheduled to launch next month for a six-month layover. Towards the end of this mission, three more astronauts will be launched aboard Shenzhou 15 for another six months, with the two crews overlapping for three to five days, marking the first time the station has had six people onboard.
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https://gadgets360.com/science/news/china-tianzhou-4-cargo-vessel-under-construction-space-station-crew-arrival-june-2961526 China’s cargo ship Tianzhou-4 docks with space station under construction ahead of crew arrival next month