Tianzhou 4 cargo spacecraft undocks from China's Tiangong space station (video)

A cargo ship has undocked from China’s space station and will soon burn up in the atmosphere after completing its mission.

The uncrewed Tianzhou 4 detached from the docking hub of the Tiangong space station on Wednesday (Nov. 9) at 1:55 a.m. EDT (0655 GMT), China’s human spaceflight agency, CMSA, announced

"After the Tianzhou 4 separated from the orbiting station, we will independently monitor and control the Tianzhou 4 cargo spacecraft. Some related experiments will be carried out in the next step," Wang Saijin, deputy chief engineer of the Beijing Aerospace Control Center, told CCTV.

Related: The latest news about China's space program

The 35-foot-long (10.6 meters) freighter will perform a controlled reentry into the atmosphere in the near future over the South Pacific, as with earlier Tianzhou missions. 

Tianzhou 4 launched to Tiangong atop a Long March 7 rocket on May 9 of this year, delivering thousands of pounds of supplies to support the three Shenzhou 14 astronauts that arrived weeks later for a six-month-long stay aboard Tiangong.

China’s next cargo mission, Tianzhou 5, rolled out to the pad at Wenchang on the same day as Tianzhou 4 undocked. 

Tianzhou 5 is expected to launch early Saturday morning (Nov. 12) and will deliver supplies for the upcoming Shenzhou 15 crewed mission.

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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 Space.com 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.