China is set to launch its first cargo spacecraft between April 20 and 24, an official statement said on Monday. The Tianzhou-1 was transferred with a Long March-7 Y2 carrier rocket from the testing centre to the launch zone in Wenchang, Hainan province, the office of China’s manned space programme said. “The completion of the transfer signals the Tianzhou-1 mission has entered its launching stage,” the People’s Daily quoted the office’s statement as saying.

Technicians have performed several tests during the assembling of the spacecraft and rocket since February. In the following days, technicians will continue the testing and inject fuel before the launch, the statement added. Tianzhou-1 is the first cargo ship independently developed by China, reports the People’s Daily. It is expected to dock with the orbiting Tiangong-2 space lab and conduct in-orbit refuelling. This is a step toward China’s goal of establishing a permanently manned space station by 2022.

China’s Jade Rabbit moon rover landed on the Moon in late 2013 to great national fanfare, but soon suffered severe technical difficulties. The U.S. Defense Department has highlighted China’s increasing space capabilities, saying it was pursuing activities aimed at preventing other nations using space-based assets in a crisis.

With inputs from IANS

Publish date: April 17, 2017 5:22 pm| Modified date: April 17, 2017 5:22 pm

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