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Int'l media speak highly of China's launch of cargo spacecraft

Xinhua | Updated: 2017-04-22 18:22

BEIJING -- International mainstream media have hailed China's successful launch of its first cargo spacecraft Tianzhou-1, which has docked with a space lab.

Reuters reported that China's first cargo spacecraft's launch and successful docking with the Tiangong-2 space lab marked a major step toward Beijing's goal of establishing a permanently manned space station by 2022.

The Tiangong-2 (Heavenly Palace 2) space laboratory was home to two "taikonauts" for a month last October in China's longest ever manned space mission, the report said.

The Associated Press reported that the launch and docking marked further progress in China's ambitious space program.

The report said that since China conducted its first crewed space mission in 2003, it has staged a spacewalk and landed its Jade Rabbit rover on the moon. A mission to land another rover on Mars and bring back samples is set to launch in 2020, while China also plans to become the first country to soft-land a probe on the far side of the moon.

Deutsche Presse Agentur (DPA) said China's first cargo spaceship launch took the country one step closer to building its own space station.

The mission places pressure on the United States, which lacks a long-term plan for human space travel, Morris Jones, an Australian space expert, told DPA.

"It provides new opportunities for Europe," Jones said. "China has worked well on space projects with Europe in the past. ... This cooperation will probably increase in the future."

China plans to build a space station by 2022. If the International Space Station will come out of service in 2024, as planned, China might become the only country with an operating space station, said the DPA report.

In an interview with Russia's Sputnik news agency, experts specifically focused on the characteristics of China's Tianzhou-1, which they said are much more sophisticated than the US cargo spaceships Cygnus and Dragon.

"Tianzhou-1's 6.5 tons of payload, in comparison with the American spacecraft's (2.5 tons), will allow China to more efficiently operate its space station," Alexander Zheleznyakov of the Russian Academy of Astronautics told Sputnik.

He said Tianzhou-1 is relatively small weight for its class, and "the total weight-to-cargo ratio is much higher than the US counterparts."

Zheleznyakov described the launch of Tianzhou-1 as a big step for Chinese space endeavors and an outstanding event for the international space sector.

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