Resident Crews of the Chinese Space Station Tiangong

Tiangong: Expedition 3

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Crew Tiangong Expedition 3

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Crew, launch- and landing data

No. Nation Surname Given names Position Spacecraft
(launch)
Launch
date
Launch
time
Spacecraft
(landing)
Landing
date
Landing
time
Mission
duration
Orbits
1 China  Chen  Dong  Commander  Shenzhou-14  05.06.2022  02:44:10.460 UTC  Shenzhou-14  04.12.2022  12:09 UTC 182d 09h 24m 50s  2885 
2 China  Liu  Yang  Astronaut  Shenzhou-14  05.06.2022  02:44:10.460 UTC  Shenzhou-14  04.12.2022  12:09 UTC 182d 09h 24m 50s  2885 
3 China  Cai  Xuzhe  Astronaut  Shenzhou-14  05.06.2022  02:44:10.460 UTC  Shenzhou-14  04.12.2022  12:09 UTC 182d 09h 24m 50s  2885 
4 China  Fei  Junlong  Astronaut  Shenzhou-15  29.11.2022  15:08:17.457 UTC  Shenzhou-15  03.06.2023  22:33 UTC 186d 07h 24m 43s  2931 
5 China  Deng  Qingming  Astronaut  Shenzhou-15  29.11.2022  15:08:17.457 UTC  Shenzhou-15  03.06.2023  22:33 UTC 186d 07h 24m 43s  2931 
6 China  Zhang  Lu  Astronaut  Shenzhou-15  29.11.2022  15:08:17.457 UTC  Shenzhou-15  03.06.2023  22:33 UTC 186d 07h 24m 43s  2931 

Backup Crew

No. Nation Surname Given names Position
1 China      Commander
2 China      Astronaut
3 China      Astronaut
4 China      Astronaut
5 China      Astronaut
6 China      Astronaut

Expedition Report

Launch from Jiuquan Satellite Launching Center.

Only seven hours later Shenzhou-14 docked with the Tianhe core module. They became the third resident crew of the space station.

On May 11, 2022, the unmanned freighter Tianzhou-4 had already arrived at the space station and was docked at 00:47 UTC. Tianzhou-4 also carries a cube sat. It's very likely something like Banxing to take photos the China Space Station after dockings of two laboratory modules, Wentian & Mengtian. In addition, the freighter transported 5.6 tons of other equipment to the space station. This included food, skin care products for six months, reserve equipment for the space station and space science payloads, as well as oxygen bottles and water bags.

The Tianzhou-3 cargo craft, carrying supplies for China's space station, undocked from the Tiangong station on July 17, 2022 at 02:59 UTC, after completing all assigned tasks, according to the China Manned Space Engineering Office.
China launched the Tianzhou-3 on September 20, 2021 from the Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Site in the southern province of Hainan, delivering six tons of goods to the country's under-construction space station.

The science module Wentian was launched on July 24, 2022 at 14:22:32.057 UTC from the Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Site. It docked on July 24, 2022 at 19:13 UTC with the front port of the Tianhe core module.
The Wentian science module is the second module of the Chinese space station. It is 17.9 m long with the rotatable holder for the solar cell wings and its largest diameter is 4.2 m. In addition to its scientific function, it also serves to control the entire space station. It consists of three areas: the approximately 7 m long working section adjoining the spherical lock section of the core module with an outer diameter of 4.2 m, a lock section with a slightly smaller diameter, and a tapered supply section on which the solar panels and the parabolic antenna for communication with the control center are mounted on the ground. Wentian also has an exit hatch and a second gripper arm.

The new science module Wentian was primarily used for biological investigations. Cai Xuzhe is responsible for the care of the cultivated plants. On July 28, 2022, a small greenhouse with cress and rice already seeded was installed in the biology and ecology laboratory cabinet of the science module. The following day, irrigation was remotely controlled from the control station. The plants grew very quickly. The rice varieties could be harvested in September 2022. They will be stored in a refrigerator until landing.

On September 01, 2022 Chen Dong and Liu Yang performed the first spacewalk in this expedition (6h 07m). For the first time they used the airlock at the Wentian module. Wearing the Chinese Feitian spacesuits, the two astronauts outfitted the space station with tools needed to support future activities. Cai Xuzhe controlled the robotic arm from inside the space station.
One of the first tasks was to install another "workbench". The camera that was later raised by Liu Yang is Wentian Panoramic Camera B. One of the major tasks of this spacewalk was to install an additional pump that circulates coolant in Wentian's cooling pipelines.

Chen Dong and Cai Xuzhe left the Tiangong space station using the Wentian airlock on September 17, 2022 (4h 12m) for the second spacewalk. The astronauts outfitted the space station. They installed the foot restraint B and an assisting hatch handle. In addition, they installed payload a circulating pump and demonstrated extravehicular emergency rescue. During the emergency drill, Cai Xuzhe mimed an unconscious astronaut. Chen Chen was supposed to take Cai Xuzhe, who weighed almost 200 kg with his spacesuit, to the airlock. He had to be careful not to damage the antennas and outboard cameras. Chen Dong connected his safety lines to his comrade's and heaved him along the outer wall. The exercise was successfully completed. This time Liu Yang controlled the robotic arm from inside the space station.

On September 30, 2022 after approximately 1 hour of cooperation between ground and flight, the experimental module Wentian completed its relocation. During the transposition, the experimental module Wentian first completed a relevant status configuration and then separated from the Tianhe core module. After that, the module transposition method was employed to complete the relocation, and then the module was reberthed to the lateral port in the core's node. This is the first time China employs this mechanism to complete the relocation of modules at large scale.

China launched its second space station module aboard a Chang Zheng 5B rocket. The Mengtian module lifted off on October 31, 2022 at 07:37 UTC, and once docked will complete the initial phase of the construction for China's Tiangong space station.
The launch of the Mengtian Laboratory Cabin Module, meaning "Dreaming of the Heavens," follows the successful addition of the Wentian module to China's Tiangong station on July 24. Like Wentian and the Tianhe core module that was launched in April 2021, Mengtian will ride into orbit aboard China's Chang Zheng 5B (CZ-5B) rocket, also known in English as the Long March 5B.
With a mass of about 20,000 kg, a length of 17.9 meters, and a diameter of 4.2 meters, Mengtian will provide space for science experiments in zero gravity, an airlock for exposure to the vacuum of space, and a small robotic arm to support extravehicular payloads.
Mengtian is divided into three compartments. The crew working compartment is a pressurized section containing storage racks for science instruments, as well as hosting the docking interface that will connect Mengtian with the Tianhe core module. The working compartment contains a wide range of instruments and science spaces.
Outboard of the pressurized crew working compartment is the unpressurized cargo module, which also contains the airlock that the crew will use to release payloads outside of the station. Both the pressurized and unpressurized sections are equipped with reaction control system (RCS) thrusters to help steer the module during free flight, and the station after docking has been achieved.
At the far end of Mengtian is the control module. This features slots to store external experiments, a communication antenna, and two solar arrays to provide power for the station. The solar panels were initially stowed to fit the module into the fairing of the CZ-5B and deployed shortly after launch.
Mengtian, Tiangong's second lab module, docked with the front port of Tianhe, the space station's core module, at 20:27 UTC on October 31, 2022 after it entered the planned orbit, the CMSA said. The whole process of rendezvous and docking took approximately 13 hours.
Later, Mengtian will conduct transposition as planned, according to the CMSA. The Mengtian module, together with Tianhe core module and Wentian lab module, will then form the space station's basic configuration in T shape.

The relocation of Mengtian took place on November 03, 2022. At approximately 00:30 UTC, Mengtian's small manipulator gripped a nozzle on the core module's ballport. The interlock between the core module and Mengtian was released and the science module pivoted to the port socket of the lock in a process that took about an hour. The station's large mechanical arm was on standby to respond to emergencies. However, this was not necessary. On November 03, 2022 at 01:32 UTC, the Mengtian science module was firmly connected to the port lock and the T-shape of the station was completed.
Then, as with Wentian assembly, the station was rotated 90° around the longitudinal axis of the Earth-facing core module so that the Shenzhou spacecraft was pointing forward in the direction of flight. Finally, the core module was rotated around the longitudinal axis of the science modules and tilted 90° up/back so that it returned to its regular flight attitude: bullet lock in front, freighter at the stern, Shenzhou spacecraft at the bottom. Inside the Mengtian science module, numerous packages containing food, equipment, and substances needed for the experiments were stowed away. The astronauts had to wait for the cooling and heating fluid to circulate through the module's walls. The internal pressure of the module also had to be adjusted to that of the station. On the other hand, it was checked whether the cargo had been damaged during the approach or during the transfer maneuver and whether toxic gases had formed. On November 03, 2022 at 07:12 UTC, after clearance from the Beijing Space Operations Center, Chen Dong finally opened the hatch and was the first to float into the module, followed immediately by Liu Yang and Cai Xuzhe.

The unmanned freighter Tianzhou-4 undocked from Tiangong on November 09, 2022 at 06:55 UTC.

The unmanned freighter Tianzhou-5 launched on November 12, 2022 at 02:03:12.374 UTC from the Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Site and docked to Tiangong at 04:10:57 UTC. Tianzhou-5 cargo spacecraft carried 5 cube sats to China Space Station. Among the science payloads were hydrogen fuel cell and tumor 3D model printing and culture.

Chen Dong and Cai Xuzhe left the Tiangong space station using the Wentian airlock on November 17, 2022 (5h 34m) for the third spacewalk. They installed a inter-module connecting device and raised the Wentian panoramic camera A. In addition they installed handrails on the small robotic arm.

Shenzhou-15 launched on November 2022 at 15:08:17.457 UTC and docked at 21:41 UTC with the Chinese space station Tiangong.

The crew of Shenzhou-14 handed over the control of Tiangong to the crew of Shenzhou-15 on December 03, 2022.

Tiangong Expedition 3 concluded with undocking of Shenzhou-14.

EVA data

  Name Start End Duration Mission Airlock Suit
EVA Chen Dong 01.09.2022, 10:26 UTC 01.09.2022, 16:33 UTC 6h 07m Shenzhou-14 Wentian Feitian-2 a (blue)
EVA Liu Yang 01.09.2022, 10:26 UTC 01.09.2022, 16:33 UTC 6h 07m Shenzhou-14 Wentian Feitian-2 c (yellow)
 
EVA Chen Dong 17.09.2022, 05:35 UTC 17.09.2022, 09:47 UTC 4h 12m Shenzhou-14 Wentian Feitian-2 a (blue)
EVA Cai Xuzhe 17.09.2022, 05:35 UTC 17.09.2022, 09:47 UTC 4h 12m Shenzhou-14 Wentian Feitian-2 c (yellow)
 
EVA Chen Dong 17.11.2022, 03:16 UTC 17.11.2022, 08:50 UTC 5h 34m Shenzhou-14 Wentian Feitian-2 a (blue)
EVA Cai Xuzhe 17.11.2022, 03:16 UTC 17.11.2022, 08:50 UTC 5h 34m Shenzhou-14 Wentian Feitian-2 c (yellow)
 

Photos / Graphics

Tiangong with modules Wentian and Mengtian (planned) crew in training
crew in training crew in training
Wentian launch Tianhe as seen from arriving module Wentian
Wentian robotic arm life onboard Tiangong
life onboard Tiangong EVA on September 01, 2022
EVA on September 17, 2022 Tiangong after Wentian relocation
Earth observation Wentian inside
Tianzhou-5 inside EVA on November 17, 2022
Crews of Shenzhou-14 and Shenzhou-15 Liu Yang with spacesuits

more onboard photos

more Earth observation photos

more EVA photos


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Last update on December 27, 2023.

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