China completes in-orbit spacecraft transposition test with space station’s robotic arm

BEIJING, Jan. 6 (Xinhua) — China successfully conducted a transposition test of the Tianzhou-2 cargo craft using its space station’s robotic arm Thursday morning.

It was the first time that the robotic arm operated a large in-orbit spacecraft for a transfer test, according to the China Manned Space Agency (CMSA).

The test started at 6:12 a.m. (Beijing Time) and took 47 minutes.

After being unlocked and separated from the space station core module Tianhe, Tianzhou-2 was moved into a predetermined position by the robotic arm. The arm then reversed the maneuvers to bring the spacecraft back to its original position. Tianzhou-2 re-docked with the core module and completed locking.

The test preliminarily verified the feasibility of using the mechanical arm to conduct a space station module transfer, confirmed the effectiveness of relevant technologies, and laid a foundation for the subsequent in-orbit assembly and construction of the country’s space station, said the CMSA.