China is set to test its Tianzhou-1 cargo and resupply aircraft in April, in what will be a crucial exercise for technologies vital to the country’s space program.
The 13-ton spacecraft will be launched into space by a Long March-7 rocket from Wenchang, South China’s Hainan Island, and will dock two days later with the Tiangong-2 space lab, 390 kilometers above earth.
It will remain there for two months. Tianzhou-1’s success will be crucial to China’s aspiration of having permanent human presence in space. China’s space station is expected to be completed by 2022, with an initial life of at least 10 years, which will allow astronauts to be stationed in orbit for missions that last more than one year, according to experts.