Chinese Tianzhou arrived at its expected destination – Tianhe, the core module of China’s under-construction Tiangong space station, on May 9, about 6.5 hours after launch.
The robotic spacecraft mission is the opening battle for the space station’s construction phase. It is also vital to reach full-scale construction and achieve the “three-step” strategic goal of manned spaceflight engineering.
The 35-foot-long (10.6 meters) freighter supplies currently unoccupied Tianhe with fresh supplies, including thousands of pounds of goods, propellant, and science experiments. These packages help prepare the module for the Shenzhou 14 crewed mission, which is expected to lift-off next month. Shenzhou 14 will send 3 astronauts to Tianhe for a roughly six-month stay.
The first Tianzhou freighter launched in 2017 to Tiangong 2 prototype space laboratory. Two years later, Tiangong 2 was intentionally deorbited to burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere.
China’s space project sent its first astronaut into orbit in 2003, making it only the third country to accomplish so using its own resources, after the former Soviet Union and the U.S.
Trust has become the root of American unwillingness to work with China on the International Space Station (ISS). Labroots reported that two mistrust matters include the adoption of an anti-satellite weapon and hacking intellectual property from Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
According to ABC News, China was excluded from the ISS in 2011. The U.S. is concerned that China’s space program is overseen by the ruling Communist Party’s People’s Liberation Army.
China plans to complete the Tiangong space station by the end of this year with five more launches. Two of them will arrive at the orbiting lab’s other two modules, namely Wentian and Mengtian. These modules will join on either side of Tianhe, making a T-shaped outpost approximately 20% the size of the ISS.