China has plans to launch its first cargo spacecraft named the ‘Tianzhou-1’ in April, reports said on Tuesday. China’s supplies for its experimental space laboratory will be carried out using the cargo spacecraft.
The Tianzhou-1 cargo spacecraft will be blasted off using the Long March-7 Y2 carrier rocket, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
The Tianzhou-1 cargo spacecraft, which was earlier kept in Tianjin, is currently at the Wenchang Space Launch Centre in south China’s Hainan Province. Its assembly and testing will now take place, according to the China Manned Space Agency (CMSA).
Tianzhou-1 consists of a cargo capsule and a propellant capsule and is the first cargo spacecraft independently developed by China. The take-off weight of the cargo spacecraft is about 13 tonnes, up to six tonnes of which is payload, the report said.
The Tianzhou-1 cargo spacecraft can remain in space on its own for as long as three months and has an ability to dock with the Tiangong-2 space lab. It is also capable of refuelling it and can carry out experiments and tests.
The Long March-7 Y2 carrier rocket will arrive at the launch centre in March, the CMSA said.
With the launch of Tianzhou-1, China will be able to build a space station by 2020 because cargo spacecrafts need to ship necessities to astronauts aboard the station.
As part of its efforts to expand its ambitious space programme, China will conduct a record number of 30 space launch missions this year.
The record-breaking number of space launches will start with Long March-5 and Long March-7 rockets, China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation had said earlier.
In August 2015, China had successfully launched the world’s first quantum satellites which boasts of hack-proof ultra-high security features to prevent wiretapping and intercepts.