BEIJING ( Associated Press) – A Chinese cargo ship docked with the country’s under-construction space station on Tuesday, with a new three-person crew expected to arrive next month.
The Tianzhou-4 spacecraft lifted off from Wenchang Launch Base in the southern island province of Hainan at 1:56 a.m. atop a Long March-7 Y5 rocket. State media said it docked with the station about seven hours later.
The cargo vessel is supplied with research equipment and spare parts for station maintenance for the next crew’s six-month stay.
The station’s last crew returned to Earth last month After six months on the station, China’s longest space mission to date.
China intends to complete the construction of the station in July and October this year by connecting the two laboratory modules to the Tianhe Living Module. Which was launched in April 2021. Another cargo craft, Tianzhou-3, is docked with the station.
China’s space program launched its first astronaut into orbit in 2003, making China only the third country to use its resources after the former Soviet Union and the US.
It has landed robotic rovers on the Moon and put one on Mars Last year. China has also returned samples from the Moon, and officials are discussing a possible crewed mission to the Moon.
The government announced in 2020 that China’s first reusable spacecraft had landed after a test flight, but has released no photos or details.
China has been kept out of the International Space Station because of American concerns that its space program is run by the ruling Communist Party’s military wing, the People’s Liberation Army.
Shenzhou 14 Crew Mission The six-month stay is scheduled to launch next month. At the end of that mission, three more astronauts will be launched to Shenzhou 15 for the next six months, with the two crewmembers overlapping for three to five days, the first time six people will be aboard the station.