First cargo spacecraft boosts China's space dream

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Added On April 21, 2017

China has successfully sent its first cargo spacecraft Tianzhou-1 into space.
 
The launch is a key milestone to meet China's goal of putting a space station into orbit around 2022.
 
Measuring 10.6 meters long and 3.3 meters wide, the Tianzhou-1 cargo ship has a maximum takeoff weight of 13.5 tonnes, and can carry up to 6 tonnes of supplies.
 
The cargo ship will now dock with the orbiting Tiangong-2 space lab, providing it with fuel and other supplies. 
 
It will stay in space for about six months, conduct space experiments, before falling back to Earth.
 
Two Chinese astronauts have spent 30 days in Tiangong-2, making it the country's longest-ever manned space mission.
 
SOUNDBITE (CHINESE) WANG YA, Official from the Wenchang Space Launch Center:
"If we want to build our own space station, we should have the transport and guarantee capability. The launch of Tianzhou-1 is a milestone."
 
China aims to build a permanent space station, planned to orbit Earth for at least 10 years. 
 
The new cargo ship is an important part of meeting the plan, as it acts as a courier to help maintain the space station.
 
If the Tianzhou-1 mission is successful, China will become only the third country besides Russia and the United States to master the technique of refueling in space.