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Chinese robotic spacecraft docks with the country's new space station

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By Philip Andrew Churm with AP
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Chinese robotic spacecraft docks with the country's new space station
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A robotic spacecraft docked with China's new space station on Sunday carrying fuel and supplies for its future crew.

China's space agency said the Tianzhou-2 spacecraft reached the Tianhe station eight hours after blasting off from Hainan, an island in the South China Sea.

It carried space suits, living supplies, equipment and fuel for the station.

Tianhe, or Heavenly Harmony, is the third and largest orbital station launched by China's increasingly ambitious space programme.

The station's core module was launched on April 29.

China's space agency plans a total of 11 launches through the end of next year to deliver two more modules for the 71-tonne station, essential supplies and a three-member crew.

China was criticised for allowing part of the rocket that launched the Tianhe, in April, to fall back to Earth uncontrolled. There was no indication about what would happen to the rocket from Saturday’s launch.

Beijing does not participate in the International Space Station, largely due to U.S. objections. Washington is wary of the Chinese programme’s secrecy and its military connections.

Tianhe is expected to be completed next year.