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Nation's first cargo spacecraft arrives in Hainan

By Zhao Lei | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2017-02-13

China's first cargo spacecraft, Tianzhou 1, arrived at the Wenchang Space Launch Center in the island province of Hainan on Monday, according to the China Manned Space Agency.

Tianzhou 1 left its manufacturing facility in Tianjin on Feb 5 and was transported by sea, the agency said in a statement. The spacecraft is due to be launched by a Long March 7 carrier rocket in late April and dock with the Tiangong II space lab.

Developed by the China Academy of Space Technology, Tianzhou 1 is 10.6 meters long and has a diameter of 3.35 m. Its takeoff weight is about 13 metric tons, which will enable it to carry nearly 6 tons of supplies to the space lab. The Tianzhou 1 mission will test in-orbit fuel supply technologies for the future space station, the statement said.

China plans to start construction of a permanent space station in 2018 and aims to put it into service by about 2022.

It will consist of three parts — a core module attached to two space labs, each weighing about 20 tons — and will operate for at least 10 years, according to the agency.