China Takes A Crucial Step Toward Building Its Own Space Station

Posted: Apr 23 2017, 2:24pm CDT | by , Updated: Apr 23 2017, 7:52pm CDT, in News | Latest Science News

 
China Takes a Crucial Step Toward Building its Own Space Station
The Tianzhou 1 blasted off from Wenchang Space Launch Center in south China. Credit: Xinhua/Ju Zhenhua

China's first cargo spacecraft docked with space lab on Saturday morning.

China launched its first cargo spacecraft on Thursday. After completing a two-day journey through space, the spacecraft successfully docked at the country’s space lab on Saturday morning.

Since cargo spaceships supply fuel and goods into the orbit, the successful arrival of this spaceship at space lab is a crucial step toward China's ambitious goal of having its own permanent space station.

China launched its first space station in September 2011. The first space station Tiangong-1 remained operational for around five years before its function failed. The space lab is expected to fall into the Earth’s atmosphere in the latter half of 2017.

Country’s second space station Tiangong-2 was sent to the space on September 2016 atop a rock from the edge of the Gobi Desert in northern China.

China’s cargo spacecraft Tianzhou-1 made first contact with the space station at 12:16 pm on Saturday while docking was completed till noon. It was the first docking between spacecraft and the space lab. Two more dockings will be done later.

Tianzhou-1 is a tube-like spacecraft that can carry six tones of supply. It will also conduct experiments in space before reentering the Earth’s atmosphere.

China is moving ahead very rapidly with its space exploration efforts. It conducted its first crewed space mission in 2003, making it the only third country to send a human into space after Russia and USA. Then, it staged a spacewalk and landed a rover on the moon’s surface. China’s fast-growing space program is now targeting a landing on the dark side of the moon by 2018 as well as sending a rover on Mars by 2020. Another ambitious plan is to setup its own space station by 2022 that could support a crew of three people permanently. A pair of Chinese astronauts already spent 30 days on board the station last year.

China was excluded from International Space Station in 2011, mainly due to the U.S. legislation. US officials have prohibited NASA from working with China because of national security concerns.

With International Space Station ending its operation in 2024, China's space station could be a better replacement in the future. Moreover, China will be the only country to have a space station in service by that time.

Source: Xinhua

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