China launches its 1st unmanned cargo spacecraft

In this Monday, April 17, 2017 photo released by China's Xinhua News Agency, a Long March 7 rocket carrying the Tianzhou 1 is transferred to the launching site in Wenchang, south China's Hainan Province. China is preparing to launch its first unmanned cargo spacecraft on a mission to dock with the country's space station. The Tianzhou 1 was due to blast off at 7:41 p.m. (1141 GMT) Thursday atop a latest-generation Long March 7 rocket from China's newest spacecraft launch site. (Zeng Tao/Xinhua via AP)

China has launched its first unmanned cargo spacecraft on a mission to dock with the country's space station

BEIJING — China on Thursday launched its first unmanned cargo spacecraft on a mission to dock with the country's space station, marking further progress in the ambitious Chinese space program.

The Tianzhou 1 blasted off at 7:41 p.m. (1141 GMT) atop a latest-generation Long March 7 rocket from China's newest spacecraft launch site, Wenchang, on the island province of Hainan.

Minutes later, as the spacecraft cleared the atmosphere, the mission was declared a success by administrators at ground control on the outskirts of Beijing.

It is programmed to conduct scientific experiments after reaching the now-crewless Tiangong 2, China's second space station. A pair of Chinese astronauts spent 30 days on board the station last year.

China launched the Tiangong 2 precursor facility in September and the station's 20-ton core module will be launched next year. The completed 60-ton station is set to come into full service in 2022 and operate for at least a decade.

Communications with the earlier, disused Tiangong 1 experimental station were cut last year and it is expected to burn up on entering the atmosphere.

China was excluded from the 420-ton International Space Station mainly due to U.S. legislation barring such cooperation and concerns over the Chinese space program's strong military connections.

Chinese officials are now looking to internationalize their own program by offering to help finance other countries' missions to Tiangong 2.

Since China conducted its first crewed space mission in 2003, it has staged a spacewalk and landed its Jade Rabbit rover on the moon. A mission to land another rover on Mars and bring back samples is set to launch in 2020, while China also plans to become the first country to soft-land a probe on the far side of the moon.

The two-stage, medium lift Long March 7 is expected to form the backbone of China's rocket fleet, and burns a fuel combination that is safer and more environmentally friendly.

It is tasked with the launch of the Shenzhou capsules that have carried out six crewed missions and, along with the heavy lift Long March 5, is key to the assembly of the Tiangong 2.

Related News

US approves 3 types of genetically engineered potatoes

Mar 1, 2017

Federal officials say three types of potatoes genetically engineered to resist the pathogen that caused the Irish potato famine are safe for the environment and safe to eat

Zika researchers seeking volunteers willing to be infected

Aug 19, 2016

Researchers looking for volunteers willing to be infected with the Zika virus as part of effort to develop vaccines

Whoosh! Swish! Meet Bat Bot, the new flying batlike drone

Feb 1, 2017

Researchers have created Bat Bot, a soaring, sweeping and dive bombing robot that may eventually fly circles around other drones

Peaple also read these

US approves 3 types of genetically engineered potatoes

Mar 1, 2017

Federal officials say three types of potatoes genetically engineered to resist the pathogen that caused the Irish potato famine are safe for the environment and safe to eat

Zika researchers seeking volunteers willing to be infected

Aug 19, 2016

Researchers looking for volunteers willing to be infected with the Zika virus as part of effort to develop vaccines

Whoosh! Swish! Meet Bat Bot, the new flying batlike drone

Feb 1, 2017

Researchers have created Bat Bot, a soaring, sweeping and dive bombing robot that may eventually fly circles around other drones

About Us

What if you could see what will happen to the world in the next 10 years? In The Daily Futurist, we explore mostly on geography, archaeology and natural science. See the future here in The Daily Futurist.

Contact us: sales@thedailyfuturist.com