Watch Rare Footage of China's Tianzhou-1 Cargo Spacecraft
China is planning to launch its very first cargo spacecraft, the Tianzhou-1, in April, state media reported on Tuesday, taking a step closer to its goal of establishing a permanently manned space station in five years' time.
The cargo spacecraft arrived at the Wenchang Space Launch Center in China's Hainan Province on Monday after assembly and testing, ECNS reported citing the China Manned Space Agency. The Tianzhou-1 mission mainly aims to test and verify on-orbit transfer of liquid propellant in microgravity to Tiangong-2, which hosted two Chinese astronauts to conduct their month-long space mission.
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The Tianzhou-1 has a take-off weight of nearly 13 tons, with a length of 9 meters and diameter of 3.35 meters. It could carry six tons of goods and two tons of fuel, and could stay in space for a maximum of three months. It features a cargo capsule and a propellent capsule. Similar to Russia's Progress cargo spacecraft, the Tianzhou-2 is also capable of docking with the Tiangong-2 space lab, refueling, and conducting some experiments and tests.
The Tianzhou-1, which is the first homegrown cargo spacecraft, will be sent off by the Long March-7 Y2 carrier rocket, scheduled to arrive at the launch center next month. The cargo spacecraft will dock with the Tiangong-2 space lab 390 kilometers above the Earth's surface.
Meanwhile, a rare footage of China's Tianzhou-1 has been released by state media. The video shows the cargo spacecraft undergoing some development and testing at the AIT facility in Tianjin, North China. It also revealed renderings of Tianzhou-1 docking with the Tiangong-2 space lab.