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China's space station module ready to receive first cargo ship visit

China's Tianhe space station module has passed on-orbit tests and is ready to receive its first visitor, according to the China Manned Space Engineering Office (CMSEO).

Tianhe launched on a Long March 5B on April 28 at 11:23 p.m. EDT (0323 GMT on April 29)and has since carried out a range of tests to prove it is capable of hosting astronauts. 

CMSEO said tests of functions needed for rendezvous and docking, life support and other platforms have been completed. A 33-feet-long (10 meters) robotic arm (opens in new tab) which will be used to help add new modules to the station has also been passed ready for work.

Video: Chinese cargo spacecraft for new space station prepped for launch
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China is now preparing to launch the first visitor to Tianhe, with the Tianzhou 2 cargo spacecraft now expected to launch from Wenchang, south China on Saturday (May 29), shortly after 8:30 a.m. EDT (1230 May 29 GMT; 8:30 p.m. May 29 local time).

The Tianzhou 2 spacecraft was first expected to launch on May 19 to send cargo and propellant to Tianhe. The launch has been delayed however due to "technical reasons," CMSEO said in a statement (opens in new tab).

Tianhe is the core module for a "T"-shaped space station that China aims to complete by the end of 2022. China has planned 10 more launches to complete the orbital outpost, starting with Tianzhou 2. 

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Andrew Jones
Andrew Jones

Andrew is a freelance space journalist with a focus on reporting on China's rapidly growing space sector. He began writing for Space.com in 2019 and writes for SpaceNews, IEEE Spectrum, National Geographic, Sky & Telescope, New Scientist and others. Andrew first caught the space bug when, as a youngster, he saw Voyager images of other worlds in our solar system for the first time. Away from space, Andrew enjoys trail running in the forests of Finland. You can follow him on Twitter @AJ_FI (opens in new tab).