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China launches first unmanned cargo spaceship

21 Avril 2017

China's ambition to launch a permanently-crewed space station is a little closer today after the nation successfully launched its first robot space truck. Sustaining a manned space station would be the crowning achievement of China's ambitious space program, whose budget, though dwarfed by that of the U.S., is set to triple by 2026.

It is programmed to conduct scientific experiments after reaching the now-crewless Tiangong 2, Chinas second space station.

The spaceship is expected to dock in two days with the Tiangong-2 space lab, which was launched in September.

Last October, two Chinese astronauts spent a month in Tiangong 2, marking the country's longest manned space mission.

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But he was found guilty of illegally possessing a firearm and the judge added five years to his sentence. He had been serving a life sentence without parole for the 2013 slaying of a onetime friend.

Report says the Tianzhou-1 is seen as essential in the operation of a space station that China plans to build by 2020.

The cargo spacecraft mission will provide an "important technological basis" for the construction of China's space station, according to state media.

In late 2013, China's Jade Rabbit rover landed on the Moon to great national fanfare, but ran into severe technical difficulties.

It is tasked with the launch of the Shenzhou capsules that have carried out six crewed missions and, along with the heavy lift Long March 5, is key to the assembly of the Tiangong 2.

China launches first unmanned cargo spaceship