Chinese Long March 7 launches Tianzhou-1

Another space station launch occurred today with the Chinese launch of Tianzhou-1.  Carried to orbit by the countries Long March 7 rocket the cargo vehicle is due to perform an automated docking with the Chinese space station Tiangong-2.  The station which has been orbiting since 15th September 2016 is currently unmanned, however, a crew did say on board for 30 days in November 2016.

This was the second launch of the Long March 7 rocket and was the largest payload ever launched by China at 13 metric tons.

One of the tests that the Tianzhou will be performing is transfer of fuel to the station, this hasn’t been tried before and will allow them to keep the station in orbit longer by using the control thrusters on the station to change orbit as needed.

Future plans for the station are not clear at the moment, however, if the Tianzhou-1 is successful it could lead to other crewed launches in the future to utilize whatever was aboard the cargo vessel.

Over the last year or so the Chinese have been a lot more open about their launches including live streaming, including with English commentators.

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