Beijing, April 22 (IANS) China’s first spacecraft, the Tianzhou-1, docked successfully with the orbiting Tiangong-2 space lab on Saturday, according to Beijing Aerospace Control Centre.
Tianzhou-1, which was launched on Thursday evening from Wenchang Space Launch Centre in Hainan province, began to approach Tiangong-2 automatically at 10.02 a.m., and made contact with at 12.16 p.m., the People’s Daily reported.
The Tianzhou-1 cargo ship and Tiangong-2 space lab will have another two dockings.
The second docking will be conducted from a different direction, which aims to test the ability of the cargo ship to dock with a future space station from different directions.
In the third docking, Tianzhou-1 will use fast-docking technology.
It normally takes about two days to dock, while fast docking will take only six hours.
Refuelling will also be conducted, a process with 29 steps that takes several days.
Tiangong-2, which went into space on September 15, 2016, is China’s first space lab “in the strict sense” and a key step in building a permanent space station by 2022.
Cargo ships play a crucial role maintaining a space station and carrying supplies and fuel into orbit.