China rolls out rocket for Tianzhou 5 cargo launch to space station (video)

China is ready for its latest mission to its newly completed Tiangong space station.

A Long March 7 rocket carrying the robotic Tianzhou 5 cargo spacecraft rolled out to its pad at the Wenchang Satellite Launch Center on Hainan island early on Wednesday (Nov. 9), China’s human spaceflight agency announced.

Tianzhou 5 is expected to launch to the Tiangong space station late on Friday (Nov. 11) Eastern time (early Saturday, Nov. 12, GMT). The spacecraft will deliver supplies to Tiangong for the upcoming, six-month-long Shenzhou 15 crewed mission, which could launch as soon as the end of November. 

Related: The latest news about China's space program

A Long March 7 rocket topped with the Tianzhou 5 cargo spacecraft rolls out to the pad at Wenchang Satellite Launch Center on Hainan island on Nov. 9, 2022.

A Long March 7 rocket topped with China's Tianzhou 5 cargo spacecraft rolls out to the pad at Wenchang Satellite Launch Center on Hainan island on Nov. 9, 2022.  (Image credit: CASC)

China’s Tianzhou cargo spacecraft weigh about 29,760 pounds (13,500 kilograms), with a cargo capacity of roughly 15,200 lbs. (6,900 kg).

China recently completed Tiangong following the launch earlier this month of its third and final module, named Mengtian, which has subsequently moved to a side port on the space station, making way for Tianzhou 5 to arrive.

Tianzhou 5 will be China’s 10th space station mission. The first, in April 2021, was the launch of the Tianhe core module. The Wentian and Mengtian experiment modules joined Tianhe in recent months, following a number of cargo and crew missions.

Tiangong is currently hosting the three Shenzhou 14 astronauts Chen Dong, Liu Yang and Cai Xuzhe. The trio will welcome aboard the currently unnamed Shenzhou 15 crew before the end of the year to mark the first crew handover aboard Tiangong.

China plans to operate and keep Tiangong occupied for at least 10 years.

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Andrew Jones
Contributing Writer

Andrew is a freelance space journalist with a focus on reporting on China's rapidly growing space sector. He began writing for in 2019 and writes for SpaceNews, IEEE Spectrum, National Geographic, Sky & Telescope, New Scientist and others. Andrew first caught the space bug when, as a youngster, he saw Voyager images of other worlds in our solar system for the first time. Away from space, Andrew enjoys trail running in the forests of Finland. You can follow him on Twitter @AJ_FI.