Tiangong-1 to be launched next year

16:38, November 16, 2010      

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China will launch its first unmanned space module, Tiangong-1, also known as the "target spacecraft," next year, Yan Zhongwen of the China Academy of Space Technology told Guangzhou Daily on Monday.

Tiangong-1, a spacecraft module equipped with two docking ports to serve as a target for a rendezvous docking operation, is expected to enter into orbit in October 2011. It will first dock with the unmanned Shenzhou 8 spacecraft and then the manned Shenzhou 9 spacecraft, according to Yan Zhongwen.

It is expected that China will establish its first permanent manned space station in 2017.

China's manned space projects have three steps. The first is the breakthrough of manned technology, represented by Shenzhou 5 and Shenzhou 6, which were launched in 2003 and 2005, respectively. The second step is to set up a short-term manned space station after completing docking and extravehicular activities. The third step is to build a permanent manned space station for space science experiments.

By Liang Jun, People's Daily Online


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