Image from first refueling test as craft approached space lab in April.
Credit: CGTM


China’s first resupply craft – Tianzhou-1 – has been deorbited under orders from ground controllers.

Following a set of braking maneuvers, the cargo ship was purposely destroyed late Friday (Beijing time) as it plunged into the Earth’s atmosphere.

Repeat dockings

Tianzhou-1 operations involved repeat dockings and refueling of Chinas Tiangong-2 space lab after the resupply vehicle entered Earth orbit on April 20th.

China’s cargo ship right approaches Tiangong-2 space lab in artist’s view.
Credit: CMSE

The space lab was unoccupied during the link-ups.

For the past five months, reports the Xinhua news agency, Tianzhou-1 and Tiangong-2 accomplished a trio of refueling sequences: On April 27, a second refueling on June 15 and a final one on September 16.

Chinese space officials view the refueling and repeat dockings as prelude to the country’s building of a larger space station in the mid- 2020s.

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