Business & Economy

Tianzhou-6 freighter successfully docks with China’s Tiangong space station

Beijing, May 11 (EFE).- The Tianzhou-6 cargo spacecraft successfully docked with China’s Tiangong space station, which will host two manned missions this year, the country’s space agency announced Thursday.

The spacecraft, which carries supplies for future missions, conducted an automated rendezvous and docking with the orbiting space station, which consists of the Tianhe core module and the Mengtian and Wentian laboratory modules.

The Tianzhou-6, the ninth spacecraft to visit the Chinese space station and the first to do so since it was completed in late 2022, successfully docked at the rear port of the space station’s Tianhe core module, at 5:16 am, the China Manned Space Agency said.

The spacecraft was launched at 9:22 pm on Wednesday from the Wenchang Space Launch Site on the southern island of Hainan aboard a Long March-7 Yao-7 carrier rocket.

It is carrying some 260 packages with a total weight of almost 5.8 metric tons, including food, water, scientific equipment and fuel for the station.

Among the food items are about 70 kilograms (154 pounds) of fresh fruit, twice that transported by the previous Tianzhou-5 cargo mission.

The ship has an improved cargo capacity of up to 7.4 tons and a life span of more than one year. It also has more space in the airtight payload containers due to an interior redesign.

The Tianzhou-6 will remain docked to the station for several months and will perform several fuel transfer operations.

China will launch two manned missions to Tiangong this year: the Shenzhou-16 mission, which will carry three astronauts in the coming weeks, and the Shenzhou-17, which will carry another three in October.

Tiangong, whose name means Heavenly Palace in Mandarin, will weigh about 70 tons and is expected to operate for about 15 years orbiting about 400 kilometers above the Earth’s surface.

By 2024, it could become the world’s only space station if the International Space Station, a United States-led initiative to which China is barred due to military ties to its space program, is withdrawn that year as planned.

In recent years, the Chinese space program has achieved successes such as landing the Chang’e 4 probe on the hidden side of the Moon – the first time it has been achieved – and reaching Mars for the first time, becoming the third country to do so after the US and the former Soviet Union. EFE


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