China launches spacecraft on docking mission

Unmanned Shenzhou-8 marks the start of another key mission in the nation's quest to assemble a permanent space station.

    China has launched the unmanned Shenzhou-8 spacecraft, marking the start of another key mission in the nation's quest to assemble a permanent space station within a decade.

    Shenzhou-8 blasted off on board a Long March-2F carrier rocket early on Tuesday from the remote Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in north-western China's Gansu province.
     
    It was scheduled to dock with the Tiangong-1 space capsule within two days of the launch and stay linked for about 12 days, Wu Ping, a spokeswoman for the China Manned Space Engineering Office, said.

    Shenzhou-8 would then perform a second rendezvous and docking manoeuvre before it detached again to allow the re-entry module to return to Earth on November 17, Wu said.

    The two-year Tiangong-1 mission was launched on September 29 to provide the target vessel for Shenzhou-8.

    Astronauts are scheduled to visit Tiangong-1 twice next year on the Shenzhou-9 and Shenzhou-10 spacecraft, which are designed to link with Tiangong-1 to form a mini-space station.

    In 2003, China became the third nation to launch an astronaut into space, after Russia and the United States.

    SOURCE: Agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Double standards: 'Why aren't we all with Somalia?'

    Double standards: 'Why aren't we all with Somalia?'

    More than 300 people died in Somalia but some are asking why there was less news coverage and sympathy on social media.

    The life and death of Salman Rushdie, gentleman author

    The life and death of Salman Rushdie, gentleman author

    The man we call 'Salman Rushdie' today is not the brilliant author of the Satanic Verses, but a Picassoesque imposter.

    The Beirut Spy: Shula Cohen

    The Beirut Spy: Shula Cohen

    The story of Shula Cohen, aka The Pearl, who spied for the Israelis in Lebanon for 14 years.