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China prepares to launch country's first cargo spacecraft

ImageFile China set to launch cargo spacecraft China's cargo spacecraft launch nears
Cris De Lacerda | 20 Abril, 2017, 09:49

China's first cargo spacecraft Tianzhou-1 is to be launched into space between April 20 and 24, according to the office of China's manned space program.

President Xi Jinping has prioritised advancing China's space programme to strengthen national security and defence.

The Tianzhou-1 and the carrier rocket Long March-7 were transferred from the testing center to the launch pad at the Wenchang Satellite Launch Center in Hainan province yesterday.

Tianzhou-1is the first cargo ship independently developed by China and the spacecraft is expected to dock with the orbiting Tiangong-2 space lab and conduct in-orbit refueling.

The team will prepare the Long March-7 carrier rocket that will carry Tianzhou-1 into space. With International Space Station coming out of the service in 2024, China will be the only country having a space station at that time.

Fuelled by liquid oxygen and kerosene, the medium-sized rocket is able to carry cargo spacecraft and satellites.

However, in spite of having made so many advances in its space programme for military, commercial and scientific purposes, China still lags the United States and Russian Federation.

China's Jade Rabbit moon rover landed on the Moon in late 2013 to great national fanfare, but soon suffered severe technical difficulties. It said that China was pursuing activities aimed at preventing other nations from using space-based assets in a crisis.