China’s new-generation spaceship launched earlier in the week is working normally in orbit after completing a series of planned operations, space authorities said on Thursday.
The experimental spaceship was launched without crew by China’s new large carrier rocket Long March-5B from the Wenchang Space Launch Centre in Hainan on Tuesday. So far, the new spaceship has unfolded its solar panels and positioned them towards the sun, deployed its relay antenna and established a relay communication link, as well as conducted autonomous orbit control four times, state-run Xinhua news agency quoted the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) as saying.
The spaceship is now in a stable flight attitude in a highly elliptical orbit, with the power supply, measurements and control links normal, the CASC said on Wednesday. Next as planned, it will raise orbit three times, and re-enter the atmosphere and return to Earth after braking at the apogee, it said.
It is scheduled to touch down at the Dongfeng landing site in north China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region on Friday, Ji Qiming, an assistant to the director of the China Manned Space Agency said.
China initiated the manned space programme in 1992. In recent years, it has emerged as a major space power with manned space missions and landing a rover in the dark side of the moon. It is currently building a space station of its own expected to be ready by 2022.