News 21 april — 10:39

China's first cargo spacecraft launch a 'crucial step' to space station

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China launched its first cargo spacecraft Thursday night, according to state media Xinhua, which described it as a "crucial step for China's plan to have an operational space station by 2020.CNN reports.

The Tianzhou-1 took off from the Wenchang Space Launch Center in China's southern Hainan province, on track to dock with the orbiting space lab Tiangong-2.

The launch was the latest in a series of major announcements by the Chinese space program, which celebrated its longest-ever space mission in November.

Our overall goal is that, by around 2030, China will be among the major space powers of the world," Wu Yanhua, deputy chief of the National Space Administration, said at a December news conference.

The Tianzhou-1 is a medium-sized rocket fueled by liquid oxygen and kerosene, and it can carry cargo spacecraft and satellites weighing more than six tons, Xinhua reports.

It is due to dock with the Tiangong-2 space lab and carry out experiments, state media says, before falling back to Earth.

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