Featured image: Xinhua News
Lift Off Time/Launch Window
|May 29, 2021 – 12:56 UTC | 20:56 BJT|
|China Aerospace Science Corporation (CASC)|
|China National Space Administration (CNSA)|
|Long March 7|
|LC-201, Wenchang Satellite Launch Center, Hainan Island, China|
|Up to 6,500 kg (14,300 lb)|
Where is the spacecraft going?
|Low earth orbit (LEO) – 370 km (230 mi), at a 41.0° inclination|
Will they be attempting to recover the first stage?
|No, this is not a capability of the Long March 7|
Where will the first stage land?
|It will crash into the ocean|
Will they be attempting to recover the fairings?
|No, this is not a capability of the Long March 7|
Are these fairings new?
How’s the weather looking?
This will be the:
|– 1st resupply mission for the Tiangong 3 Space Station |
– 2nd launch of a Tianzhou spacecraft
– 5th mission of a Long March 7 rocket
– 48th orbital launch attempt in 2021
Where to watch
|If available, a livestream will be listed here|
What does all this mean?
The China Aerospace Science Corporation (CASC) will launch its first cargo resupply mission, the Tianzhou 2, to the new Tiangong 3 Space Station, currently under construction in low earth orbit (LEO). The rocket is scheduled to launch from LC-201, Wenchang Satellite Launch Center, in China on May 20, 2021.
What is the Tianzhou 2?
The Tianzhou 2 mission is the first cargo resupply mission to the Tianhe core crew module (CCM) of China’s new and developing Tiangong 3 Space Station. The mission will provide the Tianhe CCM with enough propellant to maintain its orbital altitude, as well as deliver supplies for the stations future astronauts. The Tianzhou 2 will attach to the aft docking port of the Tianhe CCM.
The Tianzhou (which means “heavenly boat”) is an automated cargo spacecraft which will function as the main resupply vehicle for the Tiangong 3 Space Station. The spacecraft was developed from China’s first prototype space station, the Tiangong 1. The first Tianzhou spacecraft, the Tianzhou 1, launched on a Long March 7 rocket from Wenchang on April 2017.
While it has not been confirmed how long the Tianzhou 2 will remain docked to the Tianhe CCM, another cargo resupply mission, the Tianzhou 3, is scheduled to launch in September 2021, and will require the aft docking port to be free.
The Tiangong 3 Space Station
The Tiangong 3 Space Station (meaning “heavenly palace”) is a space station currently under construction in low earth orbit (LEO). When complete the station will be roughly one-fifth the mass of the of the International Space Station. Construction began on April 29, 2021, when the core module, the Tianhe, which is able to accommodate three crew members with a built-in life support system, was launched on a Long March 5B rocket.
China’s aim is to construct the three-module space station with 11 launches across 2021-2022, which will include 3 module launches, 4 cargo spacecraft, and 4 crewed missions. The station will be comprised of three modules, though it has the ability to expand to 6, and it is expected to be operational for at least 10 years. The first crewed flight to the station is scheduled to take place in June 2021.
What is the Long March 7?
The Long March 7 is a three stage medium lift launch vehicle, capable of placing a 13,500 kg (~29,800 lb) payload into low earth orbit (LEO), or a 7,000 kg (~15,000 lb) payload into geostationary transfer orbit (GTO).
The basic version of the Long March 7 can be customized by varying the number of boosters, allowing it to be capable of reaching higher orbits or executing multiple orbital deployments.
The center core of the Long March 7 can be supported by either 0, 2, or 4 boosters, which use refined kerosene (RP-1) and liquid oxygen (LOx) propellent. The boosters are powered by an oxidizer-rich staged combustion YF-100 engine. At sea level, each booster provides 1,200 kN (270,000 lbf) of thrust. This increases to 1,340 kN (300,000 lbf) of thrust in vacuum.
The center core of the rocket is 3.35 meters in diameter and has two YF-100 engines. Like the boosters, this first stage uses refined kerosene (RP-1) and liquid oxygen (LOx) propellant. At sea level, this stage produces 2,400 kN (540,000 lbf) of thrust, increasing to 2,680 kN (600,000 lbf) at vacuum.
Similarly to the first stage, the second stage is also 3.35 meters in diameter and uses refined kerosene (RP-1) and liquid oxygen (LOx) propellant. This stage is powered by 4 oxidizer-rich staged combustion YF-115 engines, two of which are fixed and two of which are able to gimble. In vacuum the second stage offers 706 kN (159,000 lbf) of thrust.
The Long March 7 does not have a third stage in the basic configuration used for this mission, but the Long March 7A variant has an additional third stage powered by liquid hydrogen (LH2) and liquid oxygen (LOx). The stage uses 2 YF-75 engines, which produce 167 kN (37,580 lbf) of thrust and have an ISP of 438 seconds.
There are some mistakes in this page. First, the payload mass should be about 13,500kg, and 6,500kg is the mass of the cargo in Tianzhou-2. Second, the offical translation of 文昌航天发射场 is Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Site, not Wenchang Satellite Launch Center. Third, there is no so called Tiangong-3 Space Station. In fact, the true Tiangong-3 which has 2 docking ports and the mass similar to Tianzhou only existed in the original plan of CMS and it has been canceled becaues of the success of Tiangong-1 and Tiangong-2 mission. The standrad name should be China Space Station or Tiangong Space Station. Finally, a little suggestion, you can visit this page http://www.spaceflightfans.cn/event/cz-7-tianzhou-2?instance_id=4757 for the high-quality pictures of the mission and the more detailed introduction of Tianzhou Cargo Spacecraft and Long March 7.