China postpones launch of rocket carrying space station supplies
The blast-off was to have taken place just days after China landed a rover on Mars, as it hustles ahead with its extraterrestrial ambitions.
Beijing has pumped billions into its space programme in a bid to make up ground on pioneers Russia and the United States, with ambitious projects in Earth orbit and the landing of uncrewed craft on the Moon and Mars.
But it was heavily reprimanded by the United States and many experts for a potentially dangerous breach of space etiquette for letting a massive rocket segment free-fall to Earth earlier this month after launching the core module of China's space station.
In the now-delayed mission, the Tianzhou-2 cargo craft was to have blasted off on a 14-tonne Long March 7 rocket, and had been expected to carry essentials such as food and space suits to the core module.
It is expected to remain in low Earth orbit for up to 15 years.
The rover is expected to soon start studying Martian geology, spending around three months taking photos and harvesting data from a vast northern lava plain.