Chinese Space Station: Core module Tianhe

Info Shymkent - Tianhe is the Core Module of Chinese Space Station and is expected to launch in March 2021

China wants to build its own outpost in Orbit in 2021. The first module will be the core module Tianhe. Info Shymkent had a look on this project.


  • Name: TianHe (天和) is Chinese for Heavens Harmony
  • Length: 18.1 m
  • Diameter: 4.1 m (living compartment)
  • Weight: 22.5 t (empty) / 24 t (with goods & equipment)
  • Docking ports: Five and one EVA hatch
  • Energy supply: Two 11 meter long and 4.6 meter width solar arrays
  • Expected life time: 10 years
  • Launch vehicle: Long March 5B
  • Flight profile: Inclination 41° / 350 km circular orbit
Info Shymkent - Technical description of Chinas's Space Station core module Tianhe
Descriptions of the Core Module Tianhe of the Chinese Space Station.

Mission Timeline

From Draft till Launch

21st September 1992: China revealed it’s manned space program – called Project 921 (Date: 9/21/1992) – to build in the third phase a long-term modular space station.

25th September 2010: Release of financial resources to built Project 921-3 – the manned modular space station.

March 2011: China revealed the time schedule for building a modular space station and to launch the first core module in 2018. Two science modules will dock with the core module till 2022.

October 31, 2013: The core module of China’s first modular space station got the name Tianhe (Chinese: Milky Way).

April 2017: Final preparation, assembly and testing started for Tianhe.

2nd July 2017: The Long March 5 (LM5) rocket had a failure during its second launch. This rocket type is planned to bring Tianhe into orbit. The next flight of LM5 was in 27th December 2019. Because of the issue on the Long March 5 rocket the launch of the Tianhe module was delayed for two and a half years.

June 2018: First underwater training for future taikonauts started.

6th November 2018: A full-scale model of Tianhe was revealed at China International Aviation & Aerospace Exhibition in Zhuhai, China.

6th January 2021: The production of Long March 5B rocket for Tianhe was completed.

4th February 2021: The space station core module was delivered to the Wenchang Satellite Launch Center at Hainan Island, China.

23th February 2021: The Long March 5B rocket for the Chinese Space Station core module arrived at the spaceport Wenchang.

10th March 2021: The first crews which will visit the Chinese Space Station were revealed. But take care with this information. The official final selection will be revealed just days before launch.

  • Shenzhou 12 (planned for 2021): Nie Haisheng (3rd flight), Deng Qingming (1st flight) and Ye Guangfu (1st flight)
  • Shenzhou 13 (planned for 2021): Liu Boming (2nd flight), Chen Dong (2nd) and Zhang Lu (1st flight)
  • Shenzhou 14 (planned for 2022): Liu Wang (2nd flight), Liu Yang (2nd flight) and Tang Hongbo (1st flight)
  • Shenzhou 15 (planned for 2022): Zhang Xiaoguang (2nd flight), Wang Yaping (2nd flight) and Cai Xuzhe (1st flight)

23rd April 2021: The Long March 5 rocket with the Tianhe module onboard was rolled to the launch pad at Wenchang Satellite Launch Center on Hainan Island, China.

Launch and Operation

29th April 2021: Launch of the Tianhe core module was on 29th April 2021 at 03:23 UTC.

2Rotating into correct inclination of 41°17.00s
3Booster separation174.83s
4Fairing separation223.40s
5Main Engine Cutoff (MECO)481.33s
6Compartment/TianHe module separation from the rocket486.83s
Time schedule of the launch of Long March 5B rocket with Tianhe module onboard.

29th May 2021: After CSNA checked all systems of Tianhe they launched the first cargo supply mission Tianzhou-2 with China’s unmanned cargo spacecraft Tianzhou to the station at the top of a Long March 7 from Wenchang Space Launch Center at 12:55 UTC. Docking between Tianzhou-2 and Tianhe occurred eight hours later at 21:01 UTC.

Info Shymkent
Unmanned cargo spacecraft Tianzhou-2 is the first spaceship visiting China’s space station core module Tianhe.

16th June 2021: The final crew for Shenzhou 12 was revealed. The commander is Nie Haisheng (3rd flight). Liu Boming (2nd flight) and Yang Hongbo (1st flight) are mission engineers.

17th June 2021: The first manned mission Shenzhou 12 to China’s Space Station was launched on 17th June 2021 at 01:22 UTC. It is China’s first manned mission after a gap of five years. The approach to the Tianhe module was with 6.5 hours very fast. Docking occurred 7:54 UTC and the Crew entered the Tianhe module at 10:48 UTC.

Info Shymkent - Current configuration of China's Space Station
Configuration of China’s Space Station after docking of Tianzhou-2.

4th July 2021: Liu Boming and Yang Hongbo went for the first time outside of the Chinese Space Station. The left the space station via the EVA (Extra Vehicular Activity, “spacewalk”) hatch at the Tianhe module. It was China’s second EVA in history and was 6h and 46 minutes long. The main tasks was to test the new EVA suits, using the robotic arm during EVAs and to check a external video camera.

Info Shymkent - Current Configuration of China's Space Station after docking of Shenzhou 12
Current configuration of China’s Space Station after docking of Shenzhou-12.

20th August 2021: The second spacewalk (EVA) at China’s Space Station performed by Taigonauts Nie Haisheng & Liu Boming today in the morning lasted 5 hours 55 minutes and was a success. Next highlight will be the landing of Shenzhou-12 crew next month.

15th September 2021: The Long March 7 rocket with Tianzhou-3, the second cargo mission to the Chinese Space Station, arrived at the launch pad at Wenchang Space Port. It is expected that the launch will occur at 20th September around 07:00 UTC.

16th September 2021: In the morning Chinese manned spacecraft Shenzhou 12 undocked at 00:56 UTC from the Chinese Space Station and moved close to the nadir port of the station to simulate a docking maneuver planned for upcoming manned mission Shenzhou 13.

17th September 2021: Shenzhou 12 landed around 5:30 UTC in the Gobi desert north-east of Jiuquan in China. Chinese astronauts Nie Haisheng, Liu Boming and Tang Hongbo spent 90 days on China’s first modulare space station. The next manned mission on Shenzhou 13 is expected to launch in mid-October.

18th September 2021: The Tianzhou-2 spacecraft moved from the aft port at 2:25 UTC to the front port of Tianhe. The cargo spacecraft will transfer fuel to the space station.

Info Shymkent - China's Tianzhou 3 cargo spacecraft is docking with Tianhe
China’s Tianzhou 3 cargo spacecraft (right) is docking with Tianhe. Tianzhou 2 is still docked at the forward docking port (left).

20th September 2021: The Tianzhou-3 spacecraft was launched at 7:10 UTC from Wenchang Space Port in China. It will deliver additional equipment, propellant and food to the new China Space Station. Docking occurred as planned at 14:16 UTC at Tianhe’s aft docking port.

25th September 2021: The Ion thrusters of Tianhe core module was fired to test the thrusters and to increase the orbit of the space station.

15th October 2021: The launch of Shenzhou 13 occured on 15th October at 16:23 UTC. Docking happend 22:55 UTC at the same day. The spacecraft docked at the nadir (earth-facing) port of Tianhe. The crew is the backup crew of Shenzhou 12: Zhai Zhigang (翟志刚), Wang Yaping (王亚平) and Ye Guangfu (叶光富). Shenzhou 12 crew will spend over 6 months on the Chinese space station Tiangong and it is the first long-duration crew in China’s spaceflight history.

Info Shymkent - Manned Shenzhou-13 spacecraft is docking with China's Tiangong space station
Manned Shenzhou-13 spacecraft is docking with China’s Tiangong space station.

7th November 2021: The first spacewalk during Shenzhou-13 was performed by Zhai Zhigang and Wang Yaping. It was the first time in history that a Chinese female taikonaut carried out an EVA. The spacewalk was 6h 25m long.

26th December 2021: Ye Guangfu and Zhai Zhigang performed a second spacewalk during mission Shenzhou-13. Both Taikonauts spent 6h 11m on this EVA. Their tasks was to install a panoramic camera, move different science payloads outside of Tianhe.

15th April 2022: The Shenzhou-13 spacecraft with all taikonauts on board undocked from Tianhe at 16:44 UTC. The Shenzhou landed around 10 hours later at 16 April 2022, 01:56:49 UTC in Inner Mongolia, China. The Crew spend over 180 days in space. That is a Chinese record. It was Wang Yaping second spaceflight and she is holding now the Chinese record for the longest stay in space with 197 days.

9th May 2022: The cargo spacecraft Tianzhou-4 was launched 17:56 UTC from Wenchang Satellite Launch Center on top of a Long March 7 rocket. The spacecraft docked at Tianhe’s aft port just under 6 hours after liftoff (10th May 00:54 UTC). The payload of Tianzhou-4 is 6,000 kg of fuel, food and equipment for the upcoming Shenzhou-14 mission.

29th May 2022: The roll-out of the Long March 2F rocket for the Chinese manned Shenzhou-14 mission to the launch site LA-4/SLS was carried out. The crew of Shenzhou-14 is still unclear.

2nd June 2022: The crew for Shenzhou-14 mission was revealed. The crew of Shenzhou-14 will be Cheng Dong (2nd flight), Liu Yang (was 1st woman in space and it is her 2nd flight) and Cai Xuzhe (1st flight).

5th June 2022: Shenzhou-14 was launched on top of a Long March 2F rocket from Jiuquan Space Center at 02:44 UTC. The docking with the Chinese Space Station at the nadir port of Tianhe happend seven hours later at 07:42 UTC. During the six-month-stay of the crew of Shenzhou-14 three spacewalks are planned and two new modules will be docked with Tianhe core module.