Following the Long March 7 rocket deployment to the Wenchang spaceport, China is prepared to deploy its 2nd space station cargo supply flight in mid-to-late September. China’s human spaceflight agency stated Monday that the 4th new-generation Long March 7 landed at the Wenchang Satellite Launch Center located in Hainan Island after being brought by ship from Tianjin in north China.
The rocket will carry the Tianzhou-3 cargo spaceship into the low Earth orbit, where it will dock with Tianhe, China’s space station’s core module. Although China has not officially announced a launch date, the mission is expected to launch in mid-September. The Tianzhou-3 flight will deliver supplies to the Shenzhou-13 crewed mission, which is scheduled to launch in October.
Jiuquan, northeast China, is preparing for that mission. The mission’s Long March 2F rocket has been prepared in advance for utilization in the event of an emergency. Late in April, China deployed Tianhe from Wenchang. The Tianzhou-2 spaceship docked with Tianhe on May 29, ahead of the first crew’s arrival on the continuing Shenzhou-12 expedition on June 17.
Tianzhou-3 will become the fourth of 11 flights planned for the Chinese Space Station’s building phase. In 2022, the Tianhe (“harmony of the sky”), a 16.6-meter-long, 4.2-meter-diameter module, will be accompanied in the orbit by two additional modules, Wentian and Mengtian. Astronomy, biotechnology, microgravity fluid physics, space medicine, microgravity combustion, space life science, and space technologies are among the areas where the duo will host studies.
Domestic and foreign science payloads will be housed on the modules. CubeSats could also be launched from the orbital facility. Nanoracks’ CEO claimed that the firm had already lost business to China’s space station earlier this month. Tianhe provides astronauts with regenerative life support as well as the key living quarters and propulsion to keep them in orbit.
The Shenzhou-12 team of Nie Haisheng, Liu Boming, and Tang Hongbo spent 60 days aboard Tianhe, breaking the prior national record for the human spaceflight mission timeframe set by Shenzhou-11 in the year 2016. On Tianhe’s robotic arm, the crew installed an extravehicular working platform and foot restraints, as well as raising a panoramic camera, during their first spacewalk on July 4. Before the crew returns to Earth in September, they will participate in another extravehicular activity.
A sequence of 14 space medical studies is also being carried out by the Shenzhou-12 mission, including using the human system research cabinet onboard Tianhe. Earlier this month, the crew performed a magnetic levitation experiment. China has built various new-generation hydrolox and kerolox rockets over the last decade, including the Long March 7. The Long March 7, 6, 5 and 8 sequences of rockets are among them.
On first, second, and the booster stages, the launcher is propelled by YF-100 (with 120-ton-thrust) and YF-115 (with 18-ton-thrust) engines that burn kerosene and LOX.