Credit: CCTV/Inside Outer Space screengrab


The next step in China’s space station construction effort has begun.

The Tianzhou-4 cargo spacecraft atop a Long March-7 Y5 carrier rocket has been transferred to the launching area of the Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Site in the southern island province of Hainan on Saturday morning, announced the China Manned Space Agency (CMSA).

The three-kilometer rollout took approximately three hours, according to experts at the launch site.

Credit: GLOBALink/Inside Outer Space screengrab

Launch process

“Compared with previous launches of Tianzhou cargo ships, this mission has mainly optimized the launch process. The launch process is shortened by eight days, and for the first time, liquid oxygen and kerosene are both added to the new-generation carrier rocket. Refueling time is reduced from 12 hours to 8 hours,” said Shi Yin’gen, deputy director of the launch site’s planning department.

Credit: CCTV/Inside Outer Space screengrab

“The optimization of these procedures is mainly based on the accumulated experience of the Long March-7 rockets after multiple launches, and is also aimed at improving the comprehensive test and launch capability of the Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Site to meet the needs of frequent launches in the future,” Shi told China Central Television.

The Tianzhou-4 mission is the third cargo resupply mission to the Tianhe core module of China’s Tiangong space station. The CMSA said the cargo ship will be launched in the near future at an appropriate time. An earlier report pegged the liftoff on May 10.

China’s space station to be completed by end of 2022.
Credit: CCTV/Inside Outer Space screengrab

Station schedule

According to schedule, China will complete the in-orbit construction of its space station by the close of 2022.

Credit: CMS

A total of six missions are planned for this year, including the launch of the Tianzhou-4 cargo spacecraft in May, the Shenzhou-14 piloted spacecraft in June, the lab module Wentian in July, and the lab module Mengtian in October.

The three modules will form a T shape to complete the in-orbit construction of China’s space station, followed by the launch of the Tianzhou-5 cargo spacecraft and the Shenzhou-15 crewed spacecraft.




Videos of the rollout can be viewed at:

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