Tianzhou 1

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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]



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.


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]


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]

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Tiangong program Space station program of the Peoples Republic of China

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  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.