Cargo for the next crew sent to the new Chinese space station

(ORDO NEWS) — On Tuesday, a Chinese cargo ship docked at the country’s under-construction space station ahead of the arrival of a new crew of three expected next month.

The Tianzhou-4 spacecraft was launched into space on a Long March-7 Y5 rocket at 1:56 a.m. from the Wenchang launch base in the southern island province of Hainan. State media reported that it docked at the station about seven hours later.

The cargo ship brought supplies for the next crew, who would be on the station for six months, as well as research equipment and spare parts to maintain the station.

The station’s last crew returned to Earth last month after six months on the station, making it China‘s longest space mission to date.

China intends to complete construction of the station this year, adding two laboratory modules in July and October to connect with the Tianhe residential module, which was launched in April 2021. Another cargo ship, Tianzhou-3, is still docked at the station.

The Chinese space program launched its first astronaut into orbit in 2003, making China the third country to do so on its own after Russia and the United States.

China has landed robotic rovers on the moon and sent one to Mars last year. China has also returned samples from the Moon, and officials have been discussing the possibility of a crewed trip to the Moon.

In 2020, the government announced that China’s first reusable spacecraft had landed after a test flight, but no photos or details were released.

China is excluded from the International Space Station due to US concerns that its space program is being run by the ruling Communist Party’s military wing, the People’s Liberation Army.

Shenzhou-14 is scheduled to launch next month with a crew that will stay at the station for six months. At the end of this mission, Shenzhou 15 will launch three more astronauts who will stay on the station for another six months, with both crews replacing each other for three to five days, which will be the first time six people stay on the station.

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