CNSA, Chinese space agency, decided to unveil plan of the mission of their first automatic cargo spacecraft which will be launched in following month to Tiangong-2 space station.
According to official announcements given last Saturday, we know the plans for first resupply mission in the history of Chinese space program. Maiden mission is planned for late April 2017; Tianzhou spacecraft will be launched on the top of the Long March-7 from Wenchang Satellite Launch Center. Spacecraft was already delivered to Wenchang in mid February for testing and to fill tanks with propellant. It will be integrated with Long March 7 rocket in following days – parts of the rocket were already shipped to Hainan Island on 3 March with special cargo ship. Official date, when Tianzhou will start its space journey to remaining on 383 km orbit Tiangong-2 space station, was not yet unveiled.
According to official informations, mission will last 5 months and will be divided into two phases. First will last three months and will cover orbital tests of Tianzhou. Next phase will start with docking to Tiangong-2 and will last two months. CNSA planned, that Tianzhou will perform series of three docking attempts combined with refueling of the station and number of rendezvous maneuvers. Weighing 13.5 t and long for 10 m spacecraft will undock and deorbit to burn in the atmosphere. Parts which will survive destructive reentry will fall into ocean. Tiangong-2 with full tanks will remain in orbit for at least few years.