Tianzhou 1

Last updated
Tianzhou 1
Tianzhou-1 paper model.png
A 1:144 scale Tianzhou-1 model
Mission type Tiangong-2 resupply
Operator CNSA
COSPAR ID 2017-021A
SATCAT no. 42684
Spacecraft properties
Spacecraft type Tianzhou
Launch massUnder 13,000 kg (29,000 lb)
Dimensions9 m × 3.35 m (29.5 ft × 11.0 ft)
Start of mission
Launch date20 April 2017, 19:41 (UTC+8)
Rocket Long March 7
Launch site Wenchang LC-2
End of mission
Destroyed22 September 2017
Docking with Tiangong-2
Docking portFore

Tianzhou 1 (Chinese : ) was the debut mission of the Tianzhou-class unmanned cargo spacecraft. It was developed as part of the manned space program of China. Tianzhou means "heavenly vessel" in Chinese. [1] On 20 April 2017, Tianzhou 1 was launched by rocket Long March 7 at China Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Site. It successfully docked with the Tiangong-2 space laboratory on 22 April 2017 at 12:16 (UTC+8). [2] Tianzhou 1 was deorbited on 22 September 2017. It plunged into Earth's atmosphere and burned up after a set of braking maneuvers under ground control. [3]

Chinese language family of languages

Chinese is a group of related, but in many cases not mutually intelligible, language varieties, forming the Sinitic branch of the Sino-Tibetan language family. Chinese is spoken by the ethnic Chinese majority and many minority ethnic groups in China. About 1.2 billion people speak some form of Chinese as their first language.

Tianzhou (spacecraft) spacecraft

The Tianzhou is a Chinese automated cargo spacecraft developed from China's first prototype space station Tiangong-1 to resupply its future modular space station. It was first launched on the Long March 7 rocket from Wenchang on April 20, 2017 and demonstrated autonomous propellant transfer.

Spacecraft Manned vehicle or unmanned machine designed to fly in outer space

A spacecraft is a vehicle or machine designed to fly in outer space. A type of artificial satellite, spacecraft are used for a variety of purposes, including communications, Earth observation, meteorology, navigation, space colonization, planetary exploration, and transportation of humans and cargo. All spacecraft except single-stage-to-orbit vehicles cannot get into space on their own, and require a launch vehicle.



It used the first flight model of the Tianzhou. It is a Chinese automated cargo spacecraft developed from the Tiangong-1 to resupply its future modular space station.

Tiangong-1 Chinas first space station

Tiangong-1 was China's first prototype space station. It orbited Earth from September 2011 to April 2018, serving as both a manned laboratory and an experimental testbed to demonstrate orbital rendezvous and docking capabilities during its two years of active operational life.

Chinese large modular space station Planned space station to be placed in Low Earth orbit

The Chinese large modular space station is a planned space station to be placed in Low Earth orbit. The planned Chinese Space Station will be roughly one-fifth the mass of the International Space Station and about the size of the decommissioned Russian Mir space station. The Chinese station is expected to have a mass between 80 and 100 tonnes. Operations will be controlled from the Beijing Aerospace Command and Control Center in China. The planned launch date of the core module, the Tianhe-1, is 2020. In 2017, the Chinese launched the Tianzhou-1 cargo spaceship, which is based on the Tiangong 1 and 2 space laboratories.


Tianzhou 1 launched successfully on 20 April 2017 at 7:41pm local time, from the Wenchang space center. This marked the second time a Long March 7 has been used, and the first one for a mission. Tianzhou-1 became the heaviest Chinese spacecraft ever launched, at that time. [4]

The Long March 7, or Chang Zheng 7 as in pinyin, abbreviated LM-7 for export or CZ-7 within China, originally Long March 2F/H or Chang Zheng 2F/H, nicknamed "Ice Arrow", is a Chinese liquid-fuelled carrier rocket of the Long March family, developed by the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation. It made its inaugural flight on June 25, 2016.


This mission demonstrated the Tianzhou spacecraft and its capabilities. It critically demonstrated propellant transfer for the Chinese space station, the last big hurdle for the long duration expeditions. [5] On April 22, 2017, Tianzhou 1 successfully docked with Tiangong 2 marking the first successful docking of a cargo vessel, and refuelling, with the orbiting space laboratory. [6] It subsequently performed a second docking and refueling on June 15, 2017. After it coupled with Tiangong 2 for a period of 60 days, it decoupled and separated from the space laboratory and completed a three-month period of free flight at around 390 kilometres above the Earth, separately carrying out a range of science experiments. On September 12, 2017, Tianzhou 1 performed the third and final docking and refuel with Tiangong 2, with what is termed a fast docking which took 6.5 hours to complete. [7] Previously the rendezvous and docking process took around two days, or 30 orbits. [8]

Related Research Articles

Space station Habitable artificial satellite

A space station, also known as an orbital station or an orbital space station, is a spacecraft capable of supporting a human crew in orbit for an extended period of time that lacks major propulsion or landing systems. Stations must have docking ports to allow other spacecraft to dock to transfer crew and supplies.

TKS (spacecraft) Soviet spacecraft conceived in the late 1960s

The TKS spacecraft was a Soviet spacecraft conceived in the late 1960s for resupply flights to the military Almaz space station.

Progress 1

Progress 1 was a Soviet unmanned Progress cargo spacecraft which was launched in 1978 to resupply the Salyut 6 space station. It was the maiden flight of the Progress spacecraft, and used the Progress 7K-TG configuration. It carried supplies for the EO-1 crew aboard Salyut 6, which consisted of Soviet cosmonauts Yuri Romanenko and Georgi Grechko. The cargo carried by Progress 1 also included equipment for conducting scientific research, and fuel for adjusting the station's orbit and performing manoeuvres.

Tiangong program space station program of the Peoples Republic of China

Tiangong is a space station program of the People's Republic of China, with the goal of creating a modular space station, comparable to Mir. This program is independent and unconnected to any other international space-active countries. The program began in 1992 as Project 921-2. As of January 2013, China moved forward on a large multiphase construction program that will lead to a large space station around 2020.

Shenzhou 8

Shenzhou 8 was an unmanned flight of China's Shenzhou program, launched on October 31, 2011 UTC, or November 1 in China, by a Long March 2F rocket which lifted off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center.

Shenzhou 9

Shenzhou 9 was the fourth crewed spacecraft flight of China's Shenzhou program, launched at 18:37:24 CST, 16 June 2012. Shenzhou 9 was the second spacecraft and first crewed spacecraft to dock with the Tiangong 1 space station, which took place on 18 June. The Shenzhou 9 spacecraft landed at 10:01:16 CST on 29 June in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. The mission's crew included the first Chinese female astronaut, Liu Yang. The next mission was Shenzhou 10, which launched on 11 June 2013.

Shenzhou 10 spaceflight of Chinas Shenzhou program

Shenzhou 10 was a crewed spaceflight of China's Shenzhou program that was launched on 11 June 2013. It was China's fifth crewed space mission. The mission had a crew of three astronauts: Nie Haisheng, who was mission commander and previously flew on Shenzhou 6; Zhang Xiaoguang, a former PLAAF squadron commander who conducted the rendezvous and docking; and Wang Yaping, the second Chinese female astronaut. The Shenzhou spacecraft docked with the Tiangong-1 trial space laboratory module on 13 June, and the astronauts performed physical, technological, and scientific experiments while on board. Shenzhou 10 was the final mission to Tiangong 1 in this portion of the Tiangong program. On 26 June 2013, after a series of successful docking tests, Shenzhou 10 returned to Earth.

History of spaceflight aspect of history

Spaceflight began in the 20th century following theoretical and practical breakthroughs by Konstantin Tsiolkovsky and Robert H. Goddard. The Soviet Union took the lead in the post-war Space Race, launching the first satellite, the first man and the first woman into orbit. The United States caught up with, and then passed, their Soviet rivals during the mid-1960s, landing the first man on the Moon in 1969. In the same period, France, the United Kingdom, Japan and China were concurrently developing more limited launch capabilities.

Cargo spacecraft robotic spacecraft that is designed to resupply a space station

Cargo spacecraft are robotic spacecraft that are designed to carry cargo, possibly to support space stations' operation by transporting food, propellant and other supplies. This is different from space probes, whose missions are to conduct scientific investigations.

The Shenzhou program is a crewed spaceflight initiative by China. The program put the first Chinese citizen, Yang Liwei, into orbit on 15 October 2003.

Tiangong-2 Chinese space laboratory

Tiangong-2 was a Chinese space laboratory and part of the Project 921-2 space station program. Tiangong-2 was launched on 15 September 2016. It was deorbited as planned on 19 July 2019.

Tiangong-3 was a proposed Chinese space station, part of the Tiangong space station program. The China National Space Agency was originally expected to launch Tiangong-3 around 2015, following the launch of the Tiangong-2 test laboratory, originally planned for 2013. The goals for the Tiangong-2 and Tiangong-3 laboratories were eventually merged, and the latter was therefore not ordered.

2016 in spaceflight spaceflight-related events during the year of 2016

Several new rockets and spaceports began operations in 2016.

Core Cabin Module Component of Chinas space station

The Tianhe, code name TH, or Core Cabin Module (CCM) is the foundation element of the Chinese space station, as the final stage of Project 921 Tiangong program, part of the Chinese space program. The CCM follows the Salyut and Almaz series, Cosmos 557, Skylab, Mir, ISS, Tiangong 1 and Tiangong 2 space stations. It is the first part of a third generation modular space station. Other examples of modular station projects include the Soviet/Russian Mir, Russian OPSEK, and the International Space Station. Operations will be controlled from the Beijing Aerospace Command and Control Center in the People's Republic of China. In 2018 fullscale mockup of CCM was publicly presented at China International Aviation & Aerospace Exhibition in Zhuhai

Shenzhou 11 planned manned spaceflight of the Shenzhou program of China

Shenzhou 11 was a crewed spaceflight of the Shenzhou program of China, launched on 17 October 2016 from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center. It was China's sixth crewed space mission, and its longest to date, at 33 days. Two days after launch, it docked with the Tiangong-2 space laboratory, which had been launched on September 15, 2016.


  1. "China's space station to be established around 2022". news.xinhuanet.com. September 10, 2014. Archived from the original on January 17, 2015. Retrieved September 11, 2014.
  2. Barbosa, Rui C. (25 June 2016). "China successfully debuts Long March 7 rocket". NASASpaceflight.com .
  3. Leonard David (25 September 2017). "FChinese Cargo Spacecraft Burns Up in Earth's Atmosphere". Space.com.
  4. Stephen Clark (20 April 2017). "First supply ship for Chinese space station lifts off on test flight". Spaceflight Now.
  5. Ping, Wu (June 2016). "China Manned Space Programme: Its Achievements and Future Developments" (PDF). China Manned Space Agency. Retrieved 2016-06-28.
  6. "Tiangong-2: China's first cargo spacecraft docks with orbiting space lab". Guardian. 22 April 2017. Retrieved 15 September 2017.
  7. Clark, Stephen (17 September 2017). "Chinese space station freighter concludes refueling demo mission". Spaceflight Now. Retrieved 5 May 2018.
  8. "China's Tianzhou-1 cargo craft and Tiangong-2 space lab perform final orbital docking". GBTimes. 12 September 2017. Retrieved 15 September 2017.