Technology

BEIJING – China’s first cargo spacecraft, Tianzhou-1, has successfully completed docking with an orbiting space lab, the Beijing Aerospace Control Center said on Saturday.

The Tianzhou-1 was launched from the Wenchang Space Launch Center in Hainan province Thursday evening and began to approach the space lab, Tiangong-2, Saturday morning.

It made first contact with the space lab at 12:16 pm on Saturday (04:16 GMT) and docking was completed at 12:23 pm, according to the state-run Xinhua news agency.

Cargo ships bring supplies and fuel into orbit, and the independent development of one is a “crucial step” toward China’s goal of having its own crewed space station by 2022, the Xinhua added.

The Tianzhou-1 is a tube-like craft which measures 10.6 metres in length and can carry over six tonnes of cargo as well as satellites, Xinhua said.

It will also conduct experiments in space, including one on non-Newtonian gravitation, and will dock two more times with Tiangong-2 before falling back to Earth, Xinhua said.

Tiangong-2 went into space on September 15, 2016.