China cargo craft docks with space station module
A Long March 7 rocket carrying the Tianzhou-2 cargo craft, loaded with essentials such as food, equipment and fuel, blasted off late on Saturday from the Wenchang launch site on the tropical southern island of Hainan, the Xinhua news agency reported
A Chinese cargo spacecraft carrying equipment and supplies successfully docked with the core module of the country's future space station on Sunday, state media said.
A Long March 7 rocket carrying the Tianzhou-2 cargo craft, loaded with essentials such as food, equipment and fuel, blasted off late on Saturday from the Wenchang launch site on the tropical southern island of Hainan, the Xinhua news agency reported.
The docking with the space station's Tianhe core module was completed at 5:01 am Beijing time (2101 GMT Saturday), the agency said, citing the China Manned Space Agency (CMSA).
China will need to carry out around 10 missions in total to complete assembly of the space station, named Tiangong, meaning 'heavenly palace', in orbit.
The station is expected to become fully operational in 2022. Once completed, it is expected to remain in low Earth orbit for up to 15 years.
With the possible retirement of the International Space Station after 2028, Tiangong could become the only human outpost in Earth's orbit.
Now, that the cargo craft has docked, China plans to begin preparations to send three astronauts up to unpack the goods, which include meals, such as shredded pork with garlic sauce and Kung Pao chicken, the agency said.
"We will transport support materials, necessary spare parts and equipment first, and then our crew," Xinhua quoted CMSA director Hao Chun as saying.
Beijing has pumped billions into its space programme in a bid to make up ground on pioneers Russia and the United States, with ambitious projects in Earth orbit and the landing of uncrewed craft on the Moon and Mars.
(With inputs from agencies)