Three Chinese Astronauts Launch for First Occupation of New Space Station

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Three Chinese astronauts launched into orbit on Thursday morning local time for a three-month mission to the nation’s first permanent space station. It will be the longest human space mission in Chinese history, and the country’s first crewed fight in nearly five years.

The mission is commanded by Nie Haisheng, 56, who has logged more than 19 days in space on two previous flights. Nie, who is a major general in the People’s Liberation Army Air Force, was joined by Liu Boming, 54, who will be flying to space for the second time, and rookie astronaut Tang Hongbo, 45.

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China to Launch Crew to First Permanent Space Station on Thursday

Shenzhou-12 crew members Tang Hongbo, Nie Haisheng and Liu Boming. (Credit: CNSA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Three astronauts will launch on Thursday morning local time aboard the Shenzhou-12 spacecraft for a three-month long mission to China’s first permanent space station. It will be the longest human space mission in Chinese history, and the country’s first crewed fight in nearly five years.

Launch of the crew aboard a Long March 2F rocket from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center is scheduled for June 17 at 0122 UTC (June 16 at 9:22 p.m. EDT).

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Tianzhou-2 Cargo Ship Docks with Chinese Space Station Core Module

BEIJING (CASC PR) — The Tianzhou-2 cargo spacecraft developed by China Aerospace Science and Technology Group Co., Ltd. successfully completed its orbital state after it entered orbit. At 5:01 a.m. on May 30, it used the autonomous rapid rendezvous and docking mode to accurately dock in the Tianhe core module. Backward port, the whole process lasted about 8 hours.

Tianzhou-2 carried astronauts’ living supplies, extravehicular space suits and space station platform equipment, application loads and propellants, etc., after completing rendezvous and docking with the Tianhe core module, it will be transferred to the combined flight phase, and the propellant will be carried out as planned. Supplementary and space application project equipment testing and other work.

So far, the second leg of the “relay race” of the China Space Station’s orbit construction has performed perfectly!

Back in time a few hours ago, the Long March 7 carrier rocket soared into the sky and steadily sent the Tianzhou-2 cargo spacecraft into its intended orbit.

China Launches Resupply Ship to Tianhe Space Station

Long March 7 rocket launches with Tianzhou-2 cargo ship. (Credit: Tu Haichao)

BEIJING (CASC PR) — At 8:55 p.m. on May 29th, at China’s Wenchang Space Launch Site, the Tianzhou-2 cargo spacecraft carrying about 6.8 metric tons of materials was launched to the Tianhe space station by the Long March-7 carrier rocket. Tianzhou-2 is carrying the daily necessities needed by astronauts , materials for conducting space science experiments, and the propellant used to refuel the space station.

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China’s Space Station Core Completes Functional Tests, Cargo Ship Rocket Rolled Out for May 20 Launch

Long March 7 with the Tianzhou-2 cargo ship is rolled out to the launch pad. (Credit: CASC)

BEIJING (CASC PR) — The space station Tianhe core module, which was launched into orbit on April 29, has recently completed functional tests of rendezvous and docking, astronaut residency, robotic arms and other platforms, as well as space application project equipment on-orbit performance checks. All functions are normal and operating in good condition. Tianhe has entered the orbit of rendezvous and docking, and preparations for the rendezvous and docking with the Tianzhou-2 cargo spacecraft will continue.

On May 16, the combination of the Tianzhou-2 cargo spacecraft and the Long March-7 Yaosan launch vehicle developed was transferred to the launch area.

At present, the facilities and equipment at the launch site are in good condition, and various functional inspections and joint tests before launch will be carried out as planned.

The spacecraft used in our country’s space station project, Tianzhou cargo spacecraft, Shenzhou manned spacecraft, and the Long March series of carrier rockets used for launch were developed by China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC). 

China Launches Core Module of First Permanent Space Station

Long March 5B launches the Tianhe space station core module on April 29, 2021. (Credit: CASC)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The International Space Station (ISS) is no longer the only human outpost in Earth orbit.

China successfully launched the Tianhe core module core module of its first permanent space station aboard a Long March 5B rocket from the Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Site on Thursday.

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Move Over ISS, China’s New Space Station is Launching Soon

Artist’s conception of China’s Tianhe-1 space station. (Credit: China Manned Space Engineering)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

In a few short weeks, the International Space Station (ISS) will no longer be the only station in Earth orbit.

China plans to launch the Tianhe core module core module of its first permanent space station aboard a Long March 5B rocket from the Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Site. Spaceflight Now‘s launch calendar has the flight taking place on April 29.

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China Plans Launch of Space Station Core During First Half of Year

Artist’s conception of China’s Tianhe-1 space station. (Credit: China Manned Space Engineering)

China will launch the Tianhe core module of its first permanent space station aboard a Long March-5B Y2 rocket from the Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Site during the first half of 2021, according to the chief designer of China’s human spaceflight program. Xinhua reports:

“Subsequent space missions include the launches of Tianzhou-2 cargo craft and Shenzhou-12 manned craft after the core module is sent into orbit,” Zhou [Jianping] said.

China is scheduled to complete the construction of the space station around 2022.

Two experiment modules named Wentian and Mengtian will be attached to the core. Launches of the new modules are scheduled for 2021 and 2022.

The space station will be similar in size to the Mir space station built by the Soviet Union during the 1980’s. It will have a mass about one-quarter that of the International Space Station.

Chinese astronauts will travel to the space station using three-seat Shenzhou spacecraft. Later flights will be aboard the nation’s next-generation crewed spacecraft, which will be capable of carrying six or seven astronauts. The next-generation vehicle is being designed for trips to the moon.

Robotic Tianzhou-2 spacecraft capable of carrying around 6,000 kg of cargo will resupply the station.

CASC: More Than 40 Launches Planned for 2021

Long March 5 launches the Chang’e-5 mission to the moon. (Credit: CNSA)

The China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) says it is gearing up to launch more than 40 times in 2020, which would break a national record. The Xinhua news agency reports:

The construction of China’s space station, the key space mission in the year, will enter a crucial stage, according to the CASC.

The country plans to launch the core module of its manned space station in the first half of 2021. Subsequent space missions include the launches of the Tianzhou-2 cargo craft and the Shenzhou-12 manned craft.

China’s Mars probe Tianwen-1 is designed to complete orbiting, landing and roving this year.

The spacecraft, launched on July 23, 2020, is expected to enter the Mars orbit around February. Afterward, it will spend two to three months surveying potential landing sites to prepare for its landing in May.

China launched 39 times with 35 successes and four failures in 2020,