China's first cargo spacecraft docks with orbiting lab

In the third docking, Tianzhou-1 will use fast-docking technology. 

China's first cargo spacecraft docks with orbiting lab

Beijing: China's first spacecraft, the Tianzhou-1, docked successfully with the orbiting Tiangong-2 space lab on Saturday, according to Beijing Aerospace Control Centre.

Tianzhou-1, which was launched on Thursday evening from Wenchang Space Launch Centre in Hainan province, began to approach Tiangong-2 automatically at 10.02 a.m., and made contact with at 12.16 p.m., the People's Daily reported.

The Tianzhou-1 cargo ship and Tiangong-2 space lab will have another two dockings.

The second docking will be conducted from a different direction, which aims to test the ability of the cargo ship to dock with a future space station from different directions.

In the third docking, Tianzhou-1 will use fast-docking technology. 

It normally takes about two days to dock, while fast docking will take only six hours.

Refuelling will also be conducted, a process with 29 steps that takes several days.

Tiangong-2, which went into space on September 15, 2016, is China's first space lab "in the strict sense" and a key step in building a permanent space station by 2022.

Cargo ships play a crucial role maintaining a space station and carrying supplies and fuel into orbit.

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