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China launches its first unmanned cargo spacecraft

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

Published: 20th April 2017 06:03 PM  |   Last Updated: 20th April 2017 06:03 PM   |  A+A-

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. | AP

By Associated Press

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

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

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.



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