BEIJING – The Chinese cargo spaceship Tianzhou-1 completed the third automated docking with the Tiangong-2 orbital laboratory, Xinhua news agency reported on Wednesday.
The docking, which concluded just before midnight on Tuesday (1600 GMT) was fast-docking, and the whole process took six and a half hours, while it took about two days for preparations and the maneuvering.
Launched into space on April 30, Tianzhou-1 had earlier docked twice in a remotely managed process from the ground-based flight control center, and in one of them it had also completed refueling.
Those in charge of China’s manned space program wanted to master such maneuvers to ensure that the space transport vehicles could supply fuel, oxygen, food and other materials to astronauts working on the planned permanent space station during the next decade.
The success of the first Chinese cargo spaceship allowed China’s space agency to go ahead with plans to build the station, which it wants ready by 2022.