China's cargo spacecraft sets new world record
by Staff Writers
Beijing (XNA) Nov 11, 2022
The Tianzhou 5 cargo spacecraft launched on Saturday morning has docked with the Tiangong space station around noon, setting a world record for the fastest rendezvous and docking operations between two spacecraft, according to the China Manned Space Agency.
The Tianzhou 5 was placed into a low-Earth orbit by a Long March 7 rocket that blasted off at 10:03 am at the Wenchang Space Launch Center in Hainan province.
After the cargo craft entered the orbit, it traveled two hours and seven minutes to rendezvous with the Tiangong space station and then docked with the massive station at 12:10 pm, the agency said in a news release.
The maneuvers have become the fastest rendezvous and docking processes for spacecraft, replacing the old record set by Russian spacecraft Soyuz MS-17 on Oct 14, 2020, when it used three hours and three minutes since its liftoff to rendezvous and connect with the International Space Station. The manned space agency said the fast rendezvous and docking are key to establishing the capability to transport supplies to the space station in an emergency.
Designers of Tianzhou 5 at the China Academy of Space Technology in Beijing said the cargo ship is carrying about 5.3 metric tons of materials, including living and mission necessities, scientific equipment as well as a mini experimental satellite. The craft is also carrying nearly 1.4 tons of propellants for the Tiangong station, the designers said. Tianzhou 5 has become the fourth cargo ship to have docked with Tiangong, following the Tianzhou 2, 3 and 4.
The Tianzhou 4, which stayed connected with the space station for six months, undocked from Tiangong on Wednesday and will be guided by ground controllers back to Earth in due course, the agency said earlier this week.
Currently, the Tiangong station consists of a core module, two lab modules, a spacecraft used to transport the astronauts as well as the newly arrived cargo ship.
Source: Xinhua News Agency
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