China to launch first cargo spacecraft

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China’s Premier Li Keqiang

The launch of China’s first cargo spacecraft moved closer on Tuesday after it met all requirements to leave the factory floor, the report said.

The Tianzhou-1 cargo spacecraft, which can carry up to six tons, is now scheduled to be launched in April to dock with the Tiangong-2 space lab to refuel it.

It will be a “crucial step for China in building a space station by 2020,” the official Xinhua news agency said.

Experts say the success of China’s space programme is important for China’s rulers to garner support from the population and to boost international prestige.

In 2011, the US Congress ruled that Chinese astronauts would not be allowed on the International Space Station because of national security concerns.

The China National Space Programme aims to launch the core module of China’s own manned space station in 2018 with a goal of completing the station by 2022.

China recently launched a navigation satellite which will conduct in-orbit experiments using pulsar detectors to demonstrate new technologies.

The X-ray pulsar navigation satellite — XPNAV-1 — weighing more than 200 kilogrammes, was sent skyward at 7:42 AM (local time) atop a Long March 11 solid-fuelled rocket from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in China’s northwest.(dpa/NAN)

Additional report by Indian Times



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