China docks Tianzhou-3 cargo ship to its new space station

Axel Monse/

China’s Tianzhou-3 cargo spacecraft launched on September 20, 2021, carrying special equipment to the new Chinese Space Station (CSS). 

The Long March-7 rocket carrying the Tianzhou-3 cargo spacecraft launched at 7:10 GMT from the Wenchang Space Launch Site in Hainan,  Chinese state media reported. After about seven hours of flight, the Tianzhou-3 cargo spacecraft docked with the CSS’s new core module Tianhe. 

The fully-packed Tianzhou-3 delivered food, water, fuel supplies, and additional space suits for the astronauts who will visit the CSS in the future. The Tianzhou-3 cargo ship can carry around six tonnes of supplies. 

It was the fourth of 11 missions needed to finish the CSS. The new space station, called Tiangong, is a major project under the country’s ambitious space program and is due to be fully operational by 2022. 

China began laying the foundation for the CSS launch a decade ago. In September 2011, the country launched a prototype space station called Tiangong-1 to continue improving its human spaceflight skills and test the technologies needed to assemble a large space station in low Earth orbit.


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