China’s first cargo spacecraft has successfully completed one of its main tasks of refueling the country’s orbiting lab.
Tianzhou-1 cargo ship has for the first time resupplied the Tiangong-2 space laboratory with an in-flight refueling technology. During its two-month flight in space, the spacecraft is scheduled to carry out the same operation twice more.
Each refueling resorts to a different formality and is completed in 29 steps, which can take several days to go through. If Tianzhou-1 succeeds in all its planned in-orbit refueling, China will become the world’s third country to have mastered the technology alongside the US and Russia.
The mission is also considered a major breakthrough for China's future programs to establish a space station by 2020.