GUANGZHOU, China – China has completed another major part of its own space station, the latest in a series of ambitious extraterrestrial projects from the world’s second largest economy.
The Long March 7 rocket carrying the Tianzhou-2 cargo spacecraft took off at 8:55 pm. Local time from the Wenchang launch site on Saturday, according to the China Manned Space agency.
In the early hours of Sunday morning, Tianzhou-2 docked with the core module of the space station called Tianhe.
China’s space station will consist of three modules, including the Tianhe “core”, cargo spacecraft such as Tianzhou-2, and laboratories. China will undertake 11 missions this year and to complete the construction of the space station, and will also bring in astronauts and supplies. The space station is expected to be operational in 2022.
Docking Tianzhou-2 paved the way for China to send astronauts to the space station. The cargo spacecraft carried astronaut supplies, including spacesuits and food. Shredded pork and kung pao chicken are among the food items transported into space, the official Xinhua news agency reported.
China’s first self-developed space station will rival the International Space Station, a joint effort between the United States, Russia, Europe, Japan and Canada. China does not interfere.
Beijing attaches great importance to ambitious space projects. Last year, China completed its global navigation system called Beidou, which rivals the US government’s Global Positioning System (GPS).
An unmanned Chinese spacecraft has successfully landed on the Red Planet after China launched its first major Mars mission last year.
However, the Asian giant was criticized this month when the rocket carrying the core module for the space station re-entered the earth’s atmosphere and landed in the Indian Ocean in an uncontrolled manner.