China’s Tianzhou-7 cargo spacecraft docks with space station combination
ISLAMABAD (PEN) : China’s Tianzhou-7 cargo spacecraft completed its status setting and docked with the orbiting Tiangong space station at 1:46 a.m. Beijing Time on Thursday, according to the China Manned Space Agency (CMSA).
The Tianzhou-7 cargo spacecraft docking with the combination of the space station, January 18, 2024. /China Manned Space
The in-orbit Shenzhou-17 crew members will enter the cargo spacecraft and transfer the payloads as scheduled.
A new 3-hour scheme
Tianzhou-7 cargo ship for the first time adopted a three-hour fast rendezvous and docking scheme with China Space Station, Chen Tongxiang, a researcher from the cargo ship system at China Academy of Space Technology (CAST), told CGTN.
“The design is based on the previous rendezvous and docking missions which lasted for 6.5 hours or 2 hours with the space station. It is a comprehensive optimization. It is more ideal for orbit injection accuracy of the rocket, direction adjustment of the station, and saving energy during the whole mission,” Chen introduced.
Compared with the 6.5-hour rendezvous and docking scheme, the three-hour scheme provides a more efficient way to transport supplies to the space station, and it can ease the stress on the systems involved in performing the task when compared with the 2-hour scheme, said Wang Ran, also a researcher at the CAST.
The researchers had done a lot of ground tests and preparation work to ensure its safety, including the collaboration of major systems and the switch control of devices.
“The design has passed the verification and simulation, and it is safe and reliable,” said Chen.
She said Tianzhou-7 will also play other roles as planned, like helping the station to adjust its position and orbit.