China today successfully launched its first unmanned cargo spacecraft, taking another crucial step towards realising the Communist giant's ambition to have a permanently manned space station in the next few years.
Powered by a Long March-7 Y2 carrier rocket, Tianzhou-1 roared into the air from the Wenchang Space Launch Centre in the southern Hainan Province, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
Hours later, space department officials declared the launch a success, as it entered the designated orbit.
In space, the cargo ship will dock with the orbiting Tiangong-2 space station, provide fuel and other supplies, and conduct space experiments before falling back to Earth.
China aims to build a permanent space station by 2022, that is expected to orbit for at least 10 years, and the debut of the cargo ship is important as it acts as a courier to help maintain the space station.
Without a cargo transportation system, the station would run out of power and basic necessities, causing it to return to Earth before the designated time.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)