Tianzhou

Tianzhou

China’s automated cargo resupply vehicle, derived from the Tiangong 1 space laboratory. Capable of in-orbit cargo resupply and refuelling of propellants.

Type: Automated cargo spacecraft. Programme: Project 921-II, Project 921-III. Agency: CMSA. Primary contractor: CAST. Status: Development. First launch: exp. 2017. Launch vehicle: CZ-7. Launch complex: Wenchang-LC201. Orbit: 300—400 km LEO, 42.5º inclination. Mass (gross): ∼13,000 kg. Payload mass: 6,000 kg. Length: 9 m. Diameter: 3.35 m. Propellants: N2O4/MMH.


Just like the space stations built by Russia and the United States, China’s future space station will also require constant supply of consumable materials including food, water, and propellants from Earth. To support this role, Chinese designers developed a cargo resupply ship named Tianzhou (“Heavenly Vessel”), based on the design of the Tiangong 1 space laboratory module.

The launch mass of Tianzhou is expected to be around 13,000 kg with a payload of around 6,000 kg. The spacecraft vehicle will be launched atop the newly developed CZ-7 launcher rocket. Launch, rendezvous and docking shall be fully autonomous, with mission control and crew used in override or monitoring roles. Once the resupply mission is completed, the cargo ship will perform a controlled descent to be burned up in the upper atmosphere.

The first experimental resupply mission is scheduled for April 2017, with the Tiangong 2 experimental Space Laboratory module.


Back to top

Associated Topics

CZ-7 — Medium-lift member of China’s next generation launch vehicles that have been developed based on several common rocket engines using environmentally friendly kerosene and cryogenic propellants. First flying in June 2016, the basic variant CZ-7 will be launched to loft the Tianzhou cargo resupply vehicle to orbit. Future variants of the CZ-7 may replace existing Chang Zheng orbital launchers for satellite launch missions. A man-rated variant may also be developed as the launcher for the next-generation multipurpose crew vehicle.


Back to top

Mission History

Date       Mission         Type             Launch Site     Launch Vehicle
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
2017       Tianzhou 1      Test flight      Wenchang        CZ-7 (Y2)

Back to top

Photo Gallery

Tianzhou mockup

A full-scale mockup of the Tianzhou cargo vehicle at an aerospace exhibition


Back to top

%d bloggers like this: