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China to launch first cargo spacecraft Tianzhou-1
Last Updated: 2017-04-20 07:10 | Xinhua
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Photo taken on April 17, 2017 shows the cargo spacecraft Tianzhou-1 being transferred with a Long March-7 Y2 carrier rocket from the testing center to the launch zone in Wenchang, south China's Hainan Province. China's first cargo spacecraft Tianzhou-1 is to be launched into space between April 20 and 24, according to the office of China's manned space program. (Xinhua/Ju Zhenhua)

China's first cargo spacecraft Tianzhou-1 is scheduled for launch at 7:41 p.m. Thursday from the Wenchang Space Launch Center in southern China's Hainan Province, the office of China's manned space program said Wednesday.

The cargo spacecraft will be carried into orbit by a Long March-7 Y2 carrier rocket, the office said.

Fuelled by liquid oxygen and kerosene, the medium-sized rocket is able to carry cargo spacecraft and satellites. It made its maiden flight June 2016.

Tianzhou-1 is the first cargo ship independently developed by China. It is expected to operate in orbit at 380 kilometers before docking with the orbiting Tiangong-2 space lab.

Measuring 10.6 meters in length and up to 3.35 meters in diameter, the tube-like Tianzhou-1 can carry over 6 tonnes of cargo.

The cargo spacecraft will also carry out experiments, including one on non-Newtonian gravitation, before falling back to earth.

The launch of Tianzhou-1 will is a crucial step for China plans for a space station by 2020.

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