Tianzhou-1 docked to Tiangong-2 space station

After two days of space journey first Chinese robotic cargo spacecraft reached Tiangong-2 space station and managed to docked yesterday to docking port after rendez vous on 385 km Low Earth Orbit.

Three days ago on Thursday, April 20th Long March 7 was launched from Wenchang Satellite Launch Center to deliver to LEO orbit Tianzhou-1 cargo spacecraft. Mission of Tianzhou-1 started ten minutes later when it was deployed on correct orbit and begun its journey to Tiangong-2 space station.

Docking was performed on Saturday punctually at 04:16 UTC. Before docking Tianzhou-1 performed rendezvous automatically and independently from ground control station. Next it moved to Tiangong-2 and  gently touched docking port to let bolts lock and create secure connection between vehicle and Tiangong-2.

This automatic docking is only first from planned three maneuvers planned for Tianzhou-1. Long for 10.6 m vehicle will soon undock and during following days it will perform another two docking maneuvers and stay permanently attached  for two months. During these 60 days flight specialists will perform refueling of Tiangong-2 transferring fuel from tanks of Tianzhou-1. Propellant is only payload useful for Tiangong-2 delivered during this mission. Presently inside station there are no astronauts, so rest of supplies in side pressurized section of Tianzhou-1 is in fact ballast simulating supplies for three astronauts.

After final undocking another three months Tianzhou-1 will spend on experiments around the station and after this time it will perform destructive re-entry to burn completely in atmosphere.

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