Tianzhou 4
Tianzhou 1 model
A 1:144 scale Tianzhou 1 model
Mission typeTiangong space station resupply
COSPAR ID2022-050A Edit this at Wikidata
SATCAT no.52509
Mission duration6 months and 5 days
Spacecraft properties
Spacecraft typeTianzhou
ManufacturerChina Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation
Dry mass6,640 kg (14,640 lb)
Dimensions10.6 m × 3.35 m (34.8 ft × 11.0 ft)
Space stationTiangong space station
Start of mission
Launch date9 May 2022, 17:56:37 UTC[1]
RocketLong March 7
Launch siteWenchang Satellite Launch Center, LC-2
ContractorChina Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology
End of mission
Decay date14 November 2022, 23:21 UTC
Orbital parameters
Reference systemGeocentric orbit
RegimeLow Earth orbit
Docking with Tiangong space station
Docking portTianhe Aft port
Docking date10 May 2022, 00:54:00 UTC
Undocking date9 November 2022, 06:55 UTC
Time docked183 days, 6 hours and 1 minute

Tianzhou 4 (Chinese: ) was the fourth mission of the Tianzhou-class unmanned cargo spacecraft, and the third resupply mission to Tiangong Space Station carrying 5 tons of cargos and 1 ton of propellant. It is the largest load capacity cargo spacecraft that is on active duty. It launched on 9 May 2022,[1] docking successfully with the Tiangong space station at the aft port 6 hours after launch.[2] Like previous Tianzhou missions, the spacecraft launched from the Wenchang Satellite Launch Center in Hainan, China on a Long March 7 rocket.[3]

It is a part of the construction of the Tiangong space station, and is the third cargo resupply mission to the already launched Tianhe core module (CCM).


Main article: Tianzhou (spacecraft)

The Tianzhou cargo spacecraft has several notable differences with the Tiangong-1 from which it is derived. It has only three segments of solar panels (against 4 for Tiangong), but has 4 maneuvering engines (against 2 for Tiangong).[4]

Mission history

On May 7, 2022, the combination of the Tianzhou-4 cargo spacecraft and the Long March 7 Yao-5 carrier rocket are transferred vertically to the launch area.[3]

At 17:56 UTC on May 9, 2022, the Long March 7 Yaowu carrier rocket carrying the Tianzhou-4 cargo spacecraft was successfully launched at the Wenchang Cosmodrome in China.[5][6] At about 18:06 UTC, the spacecraft and the rocket successfully separated and entered the predetermined orbit, and at 18:23 UTC, the spacecraft's solar sail board began to work.[7]

At 00:54 UTC on May 10, 2022, Tianzhou-4 adopted the autonomous rapid rendezvous and docking mode to successfully dock with the space station Tianhe and the rear port of the core module.[8]

On November 9, 2022, at 06:55 UTC, Tianzhou-4 separated from the space station in preparation for deorbiting, making way for the upcoming Tianzhou 5.[9] It reentered the Earth's atmosphere and burned up as planned on 14 November 2022.[10]


Tianzhou-4 loaded astronaut systems, space station systems, space application fields, cargo spacecraft systems a total of more than 200 pieces (sets) of cargo, including cargo package cargo and direct installation cargo, carrying about 750 kg of supplemental propellant, the total weight of uplink materials of about 6,000 kg, for the Shenzhou 14 crew of 3 people 6 months on orbit to stay, space station assembly and construction, space science experiments and so on to provide material support.[11] One of the cargoes was a torque gyroscope weighing 170 kilograms, the heaviest of all the materials currently in transit. A small CubeSat stored onboard Tianzhou-4, Zhixing-3A, was successfully deployed on 13 November 2022.[12]


  1. ^ a b "China launches Tianzhou 4 cargo craft to new Tiangong space station". Space.com. 2022-05-09. Retrieved 2022-05-09.
  2. ^ "Chinese unmanned cargo spacecraft docks with space station module".
  3. ^ a b "天舟四号货运飞船船箭组合体顺利垂直转运至发射区 将于近日择机发射". 中国载人航天. 2022-05-07. Retrieved 2022-05-07.
  4. ^ Baylor, Michael (20 May 2021). "Tianzhou 2". Next Spaceflight. Retrieved 20 May 2021.
  5. ^ "天舟四號貨運飛船發射任務取得圓滿成功--經濟·科技--人民網". finance.people.com.cn. Retrieved 2022-05-09.
  6. ^ 經濟日報. "運載大陸首個太空站裝備的天舟四號太空船成功發射". 經濟日報 (in Chinese (Taiwan)). Retrieved 2022-05-09.
  7. ^ "天舟四号货运飞船成功发射 中国空间站建造阶段开启". 新华网. Retrieved 2022-05-10.
  8. ^ "天舟四号货运飞船与空间站组合体完成自主快速交会对接". 新华网. Retrieved 2022-05-10.
  9. ^ "China's Tianzhou-4 cargo spacecraft separates from space station combination". MSN.
  10. ^ "天舟四号受控再入大气层任务顺利完成-新华网". www.news.cn. Retrieved 2022-11-15.
  11. ^ "天舟四号成功发射!中国空间站全面建造阶段揭幕之战五大看点". 新华网. Retrieved 2022-05-10.
  12. ^ Jones, Andrew (30 November 2022). "China's Tianzhou-4 cargo spacecraft deployed a small satellite before deorbiting". SpaceNews. Retrieved 30 November 2022.