China’s first unmanned cargo spaceship took off Thursday night, moving the country closer to their goal of having "an operational space station by 2020."
The Tianzhou 1 launched from the Wenchang Space Launch Center — China’s latest spacecraft launch site — shortly before 8 p.m.
“Our overall goal is that, by around 2030, China will be among the major space powers of the world,” Wu Yanhua, deputy chief of the National Space Administration, said at a news conference in December 2016, according to CNN.
According to Xinhuanet, the spacecraft — fueled by liquid oxygen and kerosene — has the capacity to carry more than 6 tons worth of cargo spacecraft and satellites.
This comes after China’s space agency said it wanted its spacecraft to land on the moon by 2018 and on Mars by 2020, two goals that the country is more than confident about, especially after recently completing its longest space mission in November of last year, CNN noted.
Two Chinese astronauts returned to Earth in mid-November after spending 30 days in space living and working in China’s Tiangong 2 space lab, where they worked to find intelligent life, and even had a newly developed 500-meter telescope along for the ride — the biggest telescope in the world.
The Tiangong 2 space lab was revealed last September, and China’s space agency plans on launching two more space labs in the near future: a 20-ton station in 2018 and a 60-ton station in 2022.
China completed its first space mission involving a crew in 2003 and has made incredible strides ever since.
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