It is the largest and the lightest existing spacecraft. It can carry up to 6 tons of materials and 2 tons of fuel. It will be used for supplies of a future orbital space station, where up to six astronauts can live.
Beijing (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Today at 19.40 (local time), China will launch its first spacecraft, Tianzhou 1 from Wenchang Space Center in Hainan.
The spacecraft is scheduled to dock with the Tiangong 2 space lab, where two Chinese astronauts spent a month last October. The experiment is part of a plan for the construction of an orbital space station, where up to six astronauts could reside.
The Tianzhou should be used to supply the future station with food, fuel, and water. Xinhua stated that the spacecraft can carry 6 tons of materials and 2 tons of fuel and can fly for three months without human guidance.
The Tianzhou is about 10 meters high but its capacity is larger than the spacecraft built by the US and Russia. It is also the lightest ever built, thanks to the use of new metal alloys.
The space station project will begin next year and will last until 2020 and it will be made of carbon.
Chinese leaders are making triumphant noises. Experts say the mission was partly intended to stimulate the "national pride" of a people worried about poverty, social problems and corruption.
The colonel, the first Chinese man in space, will not be along members of a new space team. The new mission Shenzou VI, should take off in mid-October.