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

    How different voting systems work around the world

    How different voting systems work around the world

    Nearly two billion voters in 52 countries around the world will head to the polls this year to elect their leaders.

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    Russian-Saudi relations could be very different today, if Stalin hadn't killed the Soviet ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

    The great plunder: Nepal's stolen treasures

    The great plunder: Nepal's stolen treasures

    How the art world's hunger for ancient artefacts is destroying a centuries-old culture. A journey across the Himalayas.