The Chinese cargo shuttle Tianzhou 3 is regularly docked on the Tiangong space station, on board more than 5 tons of materials and supplies for what will be the longest stay of Chinese astronauts in space, 6 months, starting in October.
Starting from the Wenchang base on the island of Hainan with a Long March 7 rocket, powered by 6 engines and 53 meters high, the Tianzhou 3 automated cargo shuttle reached and docked the Chinese space station that orbits 385 kilometers from Earth in about 7 hours.
The shuttle was carrying over 5,000 kilos of materials necessary for what will have to be the longest stay of Chinese astronauts in space, 6 months, which just a few days ago had completed a 90-day mission, the longest so far.
At the moment the Tiangong space station, the first entirely Chinese modular station, does not host any people on board and all operations have been carried out in an automated form.
The Tianzhou 3 was hooked to the rear hatch of the Tianhe module which until a few days ago was occupied by another cargo shuttle which, again in an automated form, moved around the module and then hooked up to the bow hatch.
The launch of the Tianzhou 3 freighter was the fourth of 11 missions supporting the construction of the Chinese Tiangong space station, whose central Tianhe module was put into orbit in April with a Long March 5 rocket. Overall, the Chinese station will be integrated. with two other segments Wentian and Mengtian reaching a volume of 110 cubic meters and a mass of 66 tons (the International Space Station has a total mass of 420 tons) and will host groups of 3 astronauts simultaneously.