A second unmanned cargo spacecraft has been launched by China on September 20, 2021. The cargo spacecraft will be joining the country’s space station that is currently under construction. The China Manned Space Agency has said that the spacecraft has carried supplies for the future missions. The Tianzhou-3 cargo spacecraft took off at 3pm (China time) from the Wenchang Spacecraft Launch site in the Hainan province in China.
The supplies that the cargo flight is carrying include water and propellant that would help to deal with the missions to be carried out in future. It is expected to dock the Tianhe space station of China that will become operational by 2022. CGTN, the official English broadcaster in China informed that the Tianzhou -2 , which is the predecessor of Tianzhou-3 separated from the core module of the space station and docked with the front facing port of the front module of the space station. The recent launch of supplies came after China had conducted a manned mission Shenzhou-12 on September 17 that had three Chinese astronauts. Three of the astronauts had returned to Earth after a three month mission that included two space walks.
The Shenzhou-12 was launched on June 17, 2021 and carried three astronauts who stayed in the under-construction space station. The return capsule of Shenzhou-12 had three astronauts, who touched down at the Dongfeng landing site. The successor Shenzhou-13 will be carrying three more astronauts to the space station, who will be remaining at the orbit for six months. Tianzhou-3 is reportedly carrying supplies for the crew of Shenzhou-13 that is scheduled to be launched in the month of October, 2021.
After the construction is completed, the Tiangong will become the only alternative to the US led International Space Station that could retire in 2024. China is excluded from the International Space Station and includes Japan, Canada, the US, the Russian Federation and the 11 members of the European Space Agency.
Photo Credits: CNBC