China reveals more details on upcoming Tianzhou-6 launch in early May



China revealed more details about its upcoming space launch Tianzhou-6 cargo mission for the space enthusiasts to dig in as the launch is expected to have only a few days for countdown.

Weighed 13.5 tonnes in total, the Tianzhou-6 cargo craft will be the first cargo craft of its series to boost its loading capacity from previous 6.9 tonnes to 7.4 tonnes. The craft is compromised of two parts: the small lower part is the propulsion module and the upper big part is for cargo storage.

"We moved some equipment in a previous unsealed compartment to the lower part of the craft so the storage can be 20 percent bigger," said Wang Ran, the chief designer of cargo craft system at China Academy of Space Technology (CAST).

Not only does the cargo craft bring supplies for the taikonauts, it also takes more propellant for the space station. For Tianzhou-6 mission, it will provide 700 kilogram propellant out of total 1.75 tonnes fuels for the station operation.

The supply for the taikonauts include clothes, food and water. Among those, there are 70 kilograms of fresh fruit, twice the weight of the fruit sent by previous mission.

"We didn't have much experience in how long we could keep those fruits fresh up there. But now after a year of practice, we are more capable to know how to keep them in storage," said Wang.

In addition, the cargo list adds a set of xenon cylinders as fuel propellant backup for the space station. They can help maintain the station in orbit or adjust its position, slowing down the consumption of the propellant.

Tianzhou-6 will be the first spaceflight since China's space station entered into the stage of application and development. It is expected to deliver supplies, including daily necessities and consumables for taikonauts, maintenance spare parts and propellants, and return with in-orbit trash.