Tianzhou 1
Tianzhou-1 model
A 1:144 scale Tianzhou-1 model
Mission typeTiangong-2 resupply
COSPAR ID2017-021A Edit this at Wikidata
SATCAT no.42684
Mission duration154 days and 22 hours
Spacecraft properties
Spacecraft typeTianzhou
Launch massUnder 13,000 kg (29,000 lb)
Dimensions9 m × 3.35 m (29.5 ft × 11.0 ft)
Start of mission
Launch date20 April 2017, 19:41 (UTC+8)
RocketLong March 7
Launch siteWenchang LC-2
End of mission
Destroyed22 September 2017
Docking with Tiangong-2
Docking portFore
ing date22 April 2017, 04:23 UTC
Uning date19 June 2017, 01:37 UTC
Time docked57 days, 21 hours and 14 minutes
Docking with Tiangong-2
Docking portFore
Docking date19 June 2017, 06:55 UTC
Undocking date21 June 2017, 01:16 UTC
Time docked1 day, 18 hours and 21 minutes
Docking with Tiangong-2
Docking portFore
Docking date12 September 2017, 15:58 UTC
Undocking date17 September 2017, 08:15 UTC
Time docked4 days, 16 hours and 17 minutes

Tianzhou 1 (Chinese: ) was the debut mission of the Tianzhou-class uncrewed cargo spacecraft. It was developed as part of the crewed space program of China. Tianzhou means "heavenly vessel" in Chinese.[1] On 20 April 2017, Tianzhou 1 was launched by rocket Long March 7 at China Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Site. It successfully docked with the Tiangong-2 space laboratory on 22 April 2017 at 12:16 (UTC+8).[2] Tianzhou 1 was deorbited on 22 September 2017. It plunged into Earth's atmosphere and burned up after a set of braking maneuvers under ground control.[3]


Main article: Tianzhou (spacecraft)

It used the first flight model of the Tianzhou. It is a Chinese automated cargo spacecraft developed from the Tiangong-1 to resupply its future modular space station.


Tianzhou 1 launched successfully on 20 April 2017 at 7:41 pm local time, from the Wenchang space center. This marked the second time a Long March 7 had been used and the first time for a mission. Tianzhou-1 became the heaviest Chinese spacecraft ever launched, at that time.[4]


This mission demonstrated the Tianzhou spacecraft and its capabilities. It critically demonstrated propellant transfer for the Chinese space station, the last big hurdle for long-duration expeditions.[5] On April 22, 2017, Tianzhou 1 successfully docked with Tiangong 2 marking the first successful docking of a cargo vessel, and refuelling, with the orbiting space laboratory.[6] It subsequently performed a second docking and refueling on June 15, 2017. After it coupled with Tiangong 2 for a period of 60 days, it decoupled and separated from the space laboratory and completed a three-month period of free flight at around 390 kilometres above the Earth, separately carrying out a range of science experiments. On September 12, 2017, Tianzhou 1 performed the third and final docking and refuel with Tiangong 2, with what is termed a fast docking which took 6.5 hours to complete.[7] Previously the rendezvous and docking process took around two days, or 30 orbits.[8]


  1. ^ "China's space station to be established around 2022". news.xinhuanet.com. September 10, 2014. Archived from the original on January 17, 2015. Retrieved September 11, 2014.
  2. ^ Barbosa, Rui C. (25 June 2016). "China successfully debuts Long March 7 rocket". NASASpaceflight.com.
  3. ^ Leonard David (25 September 2017). "FChinese Cargo Spacecraft Burns Up in Earth's Atmosphere". Space.com.
  4. ^ Stephen Clark (20 April 2017). "First supply ship for Chinese space station lifts off on test flight". Spaceflight Now.
  5. ^ Ping, Wu (June 2016). "China Manned Space Programme: Its Achievements and Future Developments" (PDF). China Manned Space Agency. Retrieved 2016-06-28.
  6. ^ "Tiangong-2: China's first cargo spacecraft docks with orbiting space lab". Guardian. 22 April 2017. Retrieved 15 September 2017.
  7. ^ Clark, Stephen (17 September 2017). "Chinese space station freighter concludes refueling demo mission". Spaceflight Now. Retrieved 5 May 2018.
  8. ^ "China's Tianzhou-1 cargo craft and Tiangong-2 space lab perform final orbital docking". GBTimes. 12 September 2017. Archived from the original on 15 August 2018. Retrieved 15 September 2017.