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"Tianzhou Express" is online again, with five highlights
A Tianzhou cargo spacecraft on final approach for docking at the Tiangong Space Station.
"Tianzhou Express" is online again, with five highlights
by Staff Writers
Beijing, China (SPX) May 15, 2023

On May 10, 2023, the Tianzhou-6 cargo spacecraft was successfully launched aboard the Long March 7 Yaoqi carrier rocket from the Wenchang Space Launch Site in China at 21:22 Beijing time. Roughly ten minutes after the launch, the spacecraft separated from the rocket and entered its predetermined orbit, with the solar panels operating smoothly, marking the launch as a complete success. The following day, Tianzhou-6 docked successfully at the rear port of the Tianhe core module of the space station at 5:16 Beijing time.

This launch is significant as the Tianzhou-6 is the fifth cargo spacecraft for the China Space Station and the first to be launched by the manned space station application and development project. It represents an upgraded version of the cargo spacecraft, featuring a fully sealed structure, with two primary compartments: the cargo compartment and the propulsion compartment. The craft measures 10.6m in length with a cabin diameter of 3.35m.

The Tianzhou-6 spacecraft boasts a larger sealed cabin space and improved cargo uplink capacity due to substantial structural optimization. Reports indicate that the cargo loading space in the airtight cabin has increased to 22.5m3, a 24% increase. The loading capacity of the entire ship has been increased to 7.4t, and the uplink cargo ratio has risen from 0.51 to 0.53. These enhancements set a new record for the Tianzhou series of cargo spaceships, establishing it as one of the spacecraft with the highest carrying capacity in the world today.

The Long March 7 rocket test launch process was shortened by one day through procedural adjustments and the implementation of a double-line parallel process, based on the experience gained from previous mission processes. Wang Yuliang, the commander of Tianzhou-6 launch mission 01, highlighted the project's aim to shorten the testing cycle for the Long March 7 launch vehicle. The launch site has managed to reduce the launch day process of the Changqi rocket from 12 hours to 8 hours, significantly increasing work efficiency.

The Tianzhou-6 mission demonstrates the rapid development and technological advancements of China's aerospace industry. The proportion of localized components in the Tianzhou-6 has increased from 83.0% to 94.68%, and the application of the domestic Beidou navigation system has been expanded. Wang Xi, a spacecraft system engineer, proudly announced that "Tianzhou spacecraft components and key components are 100% localized, fully realizing independent control."

The mission also featured the implementation of China's relay satellite network for improved space-based measurement and control. The Tianzhou-6 cargo spacecraft can interact with the ground, relay satellites, and space stations simultaneously, primarily relying on space-based measurement and control communication. Ground-based support is only required during certain critical periods.

In an effort to facilitate space science experiments and provide launch services for micro-satellites from universities and research institutions, the Tianzhou-6 mission also carried multiple small payloads from three different institutions. These will conduct in-depth scientific research in areas like laser ranging and supercritical flow.

This launch marks the beginning of a new stage in space station application and development. More Chinese astronauts are expected to be stationed in the space station to carry out comprehensive high-tech research and space exploration activities, further solidifying China's progress in space exploration.

Related Links
China Manned Space Agency
The Chinese Space Program - News, Policy and Technology
China News from SinoDaily.com

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