Tianzhou-2 is the second of 11 missions needed to complete China’s first permanent space station.
China has successfully launched an automatic cargo supply spacecraft to meet with an in-orbit module, in the second of a series of missions needed to complete its first permanent spacecraft.
The Tianzhou-2, or Chinese spacecraft, exploded by a Y3 Long March-7 rocket from the Wenchang space launch center on the southern island of Hainan in the South China Sea, the Bureau said on Saturday. of Manned Space Engineering by China.
Tianzhou-2 is the second of 11 missions needed to complete China’s first self-developed space station around 2022 and after the launch of the Tianhe key module in late April.
The Tianhe, or Heavenly Harmony, is the third and largest orbital station launched by China’s increasingly ambitious space program.
The three-module space station will compete with the only other station in service, the International Space Station (ISS), which has the support of countries such as the United States, Russia and Japan.
The US banned China from participating in the ISS. Washington is wary of the secrecy surrounding the Chinese program and its military connections.
Tianzhou-2 will dock autonomously with Tianhe, which will provide supplies to future astronauts, as well as a propellant to maintain its orbital altitude.
The launch of the rocket was postponed this month for technical reasons, state media reported.
The first Tianzhou-1 cargo spacecraft was sent to fuel a space laboratory (Tiangong-2) three times in 2017, as proof of the technologies needed to support the construction of the space station.
Both Tiangong-2 and a former Tiangong-1 space laboratory have been exorbitant in recent years.
Next year, China will launch the other two basic modules, Wentian and Mengtian, with the Long March 5B, its largest and most powerful space transportation vehicle.
That rocket, capable of sending 25 tons of payload into low Earth orbit, was a cause for concern in early May, as it re-entered the atmosphere after delivering Tianhe into orbit.
Media reports warned of an “uncontrolled” re-entry of the rocket’s central stage, recovering memories of flight debris from the first long March 5B in May 2020, which damaged buildings when it landed on the Costa de Ivory.
The remnants of the rocket fell harmlessly into the Indian Ocean, but China criticized it for not being transparent about the timing of re-entry and predictions of its trajectory.
From June to 2022, four manned spacecraft and four cargo ships will also be launched, with the Long March-7 and 2F small rockets, which have a low maximum payload of 14 tons and 8.8 tons, respectively.