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China’s cargo spacecraft separates from Tiangong-2 space lab

China’s first cargo spacecraft Tianzhou-1 separated from Tiangong-2 space lab at 4:15 pm BJT on Sept 17.

The cargo ship began disengaging from the space lab at 3:29 pm under orders from the ground. The craft is now operating at an orbit of about 400 kilometers above the earth.

Tianzhou-1 will continue carrying out experiments before it leaves orbit as it seeks to gain experience in building and operating a space station.

Tianzhou-1 was launched on April 20 from South China’s Hainan province, and completed automated docking with the orbiting Tiangong-2 space lab on April 22. In the past five months, Tianzhou-1 has operated smoothly and completed various tasks.

Third in-orbit refueling

Tianzhou-1 cargo spacecraft and Tiangong-2 space lab completed their third and last in-orbit refueling at 8:17 pm Sept 17. The third refueling, lasting about three days, confirmed the technical results from the second refueling.

The two spacecraft completed their first and second in-orbit refueling on April 27 and June 15 respectively.