China is getting ready to fly its space station supply mission, which is the second. At the same time as the Shenzhou-12 space explorers are scheduled to return to Earth. Early on September 16, China’s human spaceflight agency confirmed that the Long March 7 rocket transporting the Tianzhou-3 cargo spaceship rolled out at Wenchang Satellite Launch Center facility, which is located in south China. As per local traffic regulations, the launch date has been set for September 20.

Tianzhou-3 is intended to transfer propellant, equipment and supplies, to Tianhe space station core module in readiness for the landing of Shenzhou-13. Shenzhou-13, a three-crew, six-month mission, is scheduled to launch in October from Jiuquan, northwest China. Tianhe, the first of 3 space station modules, was launched in April. It’s presently in an orbit that measures 381 x 384-kilometer with a 41-degree inclination.

Since June 17, the 3 Shenzhou-12 astronauts Tang Hongbo, Nie Haisheng, and Liu Boming have resided aboard the module. The 90-day operation is China’s sixth and the longest human spaceflight trip in history. Earth imagery, two extravehicular, experiments, technology verification, and outreach activities, were all part of the mission.

The crew boarded the Shenzhou-12 spacecraft and departed from Tianhe facility at 8:56 p.m. Eastern. Next, the spacecraft completed a radial, or even R-Bar, rendezvous test and circumnavigated Tianhe, finishing the maneuvers at 1:38 a.m. Eastern. The radial rendezvous assessment did not entail docking; instead of focusing on the requisite sensors and navigation measurement accuracy, systems, and determining variables like differing lighting conditions when arriving from below Tianhe in relation to the Earth rather than along the flight path.

According to airspace closure announcements, Shenzhou-12 is going to reenter and land at approximately 1:30 a.m. on September 17. The return module will land in the Gobi Desert, northeast of Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, where all previous Shenzhou flights landed in the grasslands at Siziwang in Inner Mongolia. Tianzhou-3 will be the 4th of 11 space station-building missions. Wengtian and Mengtian are the names of the two experiment modules that will be launched in 2022.

China has built a variety of new-generation hydrolox and kerolox rockets over the last decade, including the Long March 7. Its primary function is to deploy Tianzhou cargo spacecraft into space. On the first, second, as well, as booster stages, the launcher is propelled by YF-100 (120-ton-thrust) and YF-115 (18-ton-thrust) engines that burn kerosene and liquid oxygen.

Tianzhou cargo spacecraft can carry up to 13.5 tons of cargo and come in a variety of pressurized and non-pressurized variants. Tianzhou-1 was deployed in April 2017 to evaluate technology needed to build and operate a space station. Tianzhou-2 took off in May and is still parked at Tianhe. It will undock from Tianhe aft port as well as a dock with a forwarding docking port in the near future to demonstrate microgravity propellant transfer. After that, Tianzhou-2 will be deorbited over South Pacific. China appears to be interested in developing smaller, commercial cargo capacities to support its space station.

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