China has advanced preparations for the next manned mission to its Tianhe space station, successfully launching a robot truck carrying enough supplies to support a crew for six months.
State organ Xinhua reported today that the 389th mission using a Long March thruster took off on September 19, taking the Tianzhou-3 cargo vehicle with it.
Tianzhou-3 docked in Tianhe on September 20. XinhuaThe agency report found that the payload includes “nearly six tons of goods and materials, including life supplies for astronauts, an extravehicular space suit for backup, supplies for extravehicular activities, space station platform materials, payloads and thrusters ”.
The report also revealed that China’s National Space Administration revised the color used on cargo labels “to help astronauts identify content.”
“The packages on Tianzhou-2 had markings and QR codes to identify the contents, but because the packaging was all beige, they were a bit difficult for astronauts to sort and organize,” the report said. “On Tianzhou-3, the supplies are packaged in different colors and with a QR code.” They are also packaged in materials that use “a unique ingredient extracted from crab shells”. Unfortunately, the state body did not reveal any further details about the filthy packaging.
Corn Xinhua confirmed that China plans to launch a crewed mission to Tianhe by the end of 2021, followed by six more missions in 2022.
Two of next year’s efforts will launch new modules, and another pair will be freight trucks.
The rest will be crewed missions. Do the math, readers: China has said it plans to use Tianhe constantly and can now send up to six months of supplies in a single launch. It looks like the Middle Empire will achieve its orbital goals. ®