Sun Mar 5, 2017 2:2PM
This picture shows China's Tianzhou-1 freighter docking with the currently orbiting Tiangong-2 space lab.
This picture shows China's Tianzhou-1 freighter docking with the currently orbiting Tiangong-2 space lab.
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China is planning to launch its first ever cargo spacecraft set to supply the country’s space lab and conduct experiments.

Tianzhou-1 during Processing. © ChinaSpaceflight.com

Tianzhou-1 is scheduled for launch in mid or late April. It will lift off from China's Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Center in Hainan Province via a career rocket.

If successfully launched, the cargo ship will have 3 months of solo space travel before docking with orbiting Tiangong-2 space lab.

Tianzhou will remain along the lab for 2 months to complete the second phase of China’s manned space program.

It will examine and verify tasks such as supplying goods, in orbit refueling and fast automated rendezvous and docking.

The mission is crucial for China to take the final step toward establishing a space station around 2022.