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DRAGON SPACE
China's first cargo spacecraft docks with space lab
by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) April 22, 2017


Orbital cargo ship arrives at space station
Miami (AFP) April 22, 2017 - An unmanned Cygnus cargo ship carrying a load of supplies and science experiments arrived safely at the International Space Station on Saturday, according to live images broadcast on NASA television.

Working from inside the orbiting lab, US astronaut Peggy Whitson and her French counterpart Thomas Pesquet operated the station's external robotic arm to grab the approaching spaceship at 6:05 am (1005 GMT).

The Cygnus spacecraft is packed with 7,626 pounds (3,459 kilograms) of crew supplies, hardware and dozens of experiments aimed at studying fire, growing food and cancer therapies.

After the astronauts unpack the Cygnus, they will reload it with trash that will burn up along with the spacecraft upon re-entry into Earth's atmosphere on July 25.

This supply mission by Orbital ATK is the company's seventh as part of a $1.9 billion contract with NASA.

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

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.

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, according to the official Xinhua news agency.

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.

Beijing sees its multi-billion-dollar space programme as a symbol of its rise and of the Communist Party's success in turning around the fortunes of the once poverty-stricken nation.

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

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

DRAGON SPACE
Tianzhou-1 space truck soars into orbit
Wenchang, China (Sputnik) Apr 21, 2017
Commenting on China launching its first cargo spacecraft on April 20, experts told Sputnik that the Tianzhou-1 cargo resupply spacecraft's characteristics are much more sophisticated than those of US cargo spaceships. In an interview with Sputnik, experts specifically focused on the characteristics of China's Tianzhou-1 cargo resupply spacecraft, which they said are much more sophisticated ... read more

Related Links
The Chinese Space Program - News, Policy and Technology
China News from SinoDaily.com

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