Beijing: According to official media, due to technical delays, China launched a cargo spacecraft on Saturday to deliver supplies to the new space station.
According to Xinhua News Agency, a 14-ton Long March 7 rocket carrying Tianzhou-2 was launched from the Wenchang launch site on Hainan Island in the south of the tropics. It was loaded with food, equipment, fuel and other necessities.
The agency quoted the China Manned Space Administration (CMSA) as saying that the cargo spacecraft successfully separated from the rocket, entered orbit and deployed solar panels.
The space station — named Tiangong, meaning “heavenly palace” — will need around 10 missions in total to complete assembly in orbit.
It is expected to become fully operational in 2022. Once completed, it is expected to remain in low Earth orbit for up to 15 years.
As the International Space Station may be decommissioned after 2028, Tiangong may become the only human outpost in Earth orbit.
“We will transport support materials, necessary spare parts and equipment first, and then our crew,” Xinhua quoted CMSA director Hao Chun as saying.