China’s Tianzhou-2 cargo spacecraft successfully docked with the country’s recently launched space station core module eight hours after being launched.
The uncrewed spacecraft was launched from Wenchang spaceport at 12:55 UTC on May 29 carrying propellant and supplies for the first crewed mission to the station next month.
Following an eight-hour chase, the Tianzhou-2 spacecraft successfully rendezvoused and docked with the Tianhe space station module at 21:01 UTC.
The Tianhe core module is the first of three modules that will make up the Chinese space station. The module was launched aboard a Long March 5B on April 28 and completed on-orbit testing earlier this month.
The 13-metric-ton Tianzhou-2 spacecraft carried a total of 6.8 tons of supplies including food, oxygen and two tons of propellants. The spacecraft also carried two 100-kilogram extravehicular activity spacesuits that will be used for spacewalks.
Tianzhou-2 will remain docked to the station through the three-month crewed Shenzhou-12 mission which is expected to be launched on June 10.
The Tianhe core module of the space station will be joined by the Wentian and Mengtian experiment modules in 2022 as part of an 11-launch construction phase. Once complete, the three-module 66-ton space station will host experiments from around the world in the fields of biotechnology, astronomy, microgravity fluid physics, space medicine, space life science, space technologies, and microgravity combustion.