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China's first space lab module ready for launch, will leave no space debris after docking tests

(Xinhua)

08:06, September 29, 2011


Wu Ping, a spokeswoman for China's manned space program, attends a news conference at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China's Gansu Province, Sept. 28, 2011. The Tiangong-1, or "Heavenly Palace 1," is scheduled to be sent into space late Thursday to perform the nation's first space-docking procedure. (Xinhua/Wang Jianmin)

JIUQUAN, Gansu, Sept. 28 (Xinhua) -- A spokesperson with China's manned space program said Wednesday that the country's first space lab module Tiangong-1 is ready for launch and there will be no space junk left after docking tests in the upcoming two years.

Fuel has been injected into the Long March-2FT1 carrier rocket, which the Tiangong-1 is mounted to and scheduled to be launched from Thursday evening at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China.

The Long March-2FT1 is the latest modified model of the Long March-2 rocket series and features a more powerful thrust force, said spokeswoman Wu Ping at a press conference at the launch center.

The Long march-2FT1, which has been given more than 170 modifications, is 52-meters long with a payload to low Earth orbit of 8.6 tonnes, according to Wu.

The modifications to the rocket came after an unsuccessful launch in August when a Long March-2C rocket malfunctioned and failed to send an experimental satellite into orbit.

Engineers conducted comprehensive technical evaluations and made modifications to improve the reliability of the Tiangong-1's Long March-2F carrier rocket, which shares most of its components with the failed Long March-2C.

Wu said China is confident about the upcoming launch of its first space lab module, despite the highly risky nature of space explorations.

Despite August's failed launch, China's Long March rocket series has a success rate of 94.4 percent for its nearly 130 space launches since 1990 -- a ratio higher than that of the world's total space launches.

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