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Tianzhou 4 prepares to return to Earth

By ZHAO LEI | | Updated: 2022-11-09 16:36
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The Tianzhou 4 cargo spacecraft departed from the Tiangong space station on Wednesday afternoon, according to the China Manned Space Agency.

The agency said in a brief release that the robotic craft undocked from Tiangong at 2:55 am and will be guided by ground controllers back to Earth in due course.

Launched on May 10 from the Wenchang Space Launch Center in Hainan province, Tianzhou 4 docked with Tiangong in a low-Earth orbit of around 400 kilometers later that day.

Carrying nearly 6 metric tons of propellants and materials, including more than 200 packages, the spacecraft was tasked with supporting the Shenzhou XIV mission, during which a three-member crew is scheduled to spend six months inside the space station.

The mission crew has so far spent more than five months aboard the station.

Tianzhou 4 is the third cargo ship to have linked with the Tiangong, following the Tianzhou 2 and 3.

Designed to function for more than a year, each Tianzhou cargo spaceship has two parts — a cargo cabin and a propulsion section. The vehicles are 10.6 meters long and 3.35 meters wide.

The cargo vehicle has a lift-off weight of 13.5 tons and can transport up to 6.9 tons of supplies to the space station.

Currently, the Tiangong station consists of a core module, two lab modules and a spacecraft used to transport the astronauts.

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