China completes second space docking

November 14, 2011
A flag flies before an upgraded Long March 2F rocket carrying the Shenzhou VIII spacecraft at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in Jiuquan, northwest China's Gansu province in October 2011. China completed its second space docking on Monday, state media reported, as it moves closer towards fulfilling its ambition to set up a manned space station.

China completed its second space docking on Monday, state media reported, as it moves closer towards fulfilling its ambition to set up a manned space station.

The move comes 12 days after the Asian nation successfully completed its first ever "kiss" in space, when the VIII spacecraft joined onto the Tiangong-1 experimental module 343 kilometres (213 miles) above the Earth.

The two unmanned vehicles had been travelling together since the successful maneouvre on November 3, and on Monday, Shenzhou VIII disengaged from Tiangong-1 for half an hour before re-docking with the module, the state said.

The Shenzhou vehicle, whose name translates as "divine vessel", is a modified version of the capsules that took the first into space as part of the rising power's ambitious exploration programme.

China aims to complete construction of a space station by 2020, a goal that requires it to perfect docking technology -- a delicate manoeuvre that the Russians and Americans successfully completed in the 1960s.

The technique is hard to master because the two vessels, placed in the same orbit and revolving around the Earth at thousands of kilometres per hour, must come together very gently to avoid destroying each other.

Shenzhou VIII took off on November 1 from the Jiuquan base in the northwestern province of Gansu, from where Tiangong-1 -- or "Heavenly Palace" -- also launched on September 29.

It is set to return to Earth on Thursday, Wu Ping, spokeswoman for China's manned space programme, told reporters earlier.

China sees its space programme as a symbol of its global stature, growing technical expertise, and the Communist Party's success in turning around the fortunes of the once poverty-stricken nation.

If the current mission is a success, China will launch two more spacecraft next year to dock with Tiangong-1 -- the Shenzhou IX and Shenzhou X -- at least one of which will be manned.

Explore further: China to launch space station's first module

Related Stories

China counts down to space module launch

September 29, 2011

China will take its first step towards building a space station on Thursday when it launches an experimental module ahead of National Day celebrations.

China may send first woman into space

October 31, 2011

China may send its first woman into space next year as part of a programme to build a space station by 2020, the official Xinhua news agency said Monday.

China spacecraft launches on key mission

October 31, 2011

China launched an unmanned spacecraft on Tuesday to carry out a key docking mission, taking its next step towards the goal of building its first space station by 2020.

Recommended for you

Image: Hubble sees a youthful cluster

August 31, 2015

Shown here in a new image taken with the Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) on board the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope is the globular cluster NGC 1783. This is one of the biggest globular clusters in the Large Magellanic ...

New Horizons team selects potential Kuiper Belt flyby target

August 29, 2015

NASA has selected the potential next destination for the New Horizons mission to visit after its historic July 14 flyby of the Pluto system. The destination is a small Kuiper Belt object (KBO) known as 2014 MU69 that orbits ...

Earth's extremes point the way to extraterrestrial life

August 26, 2015

Bizarre creatures that go years without water. Others that can survive the vacuum of open space. Some of the most unusual organisms found on Earth provide insights for Washington State University planetary scientist Dirk ...

2 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Vendicar_Decarian
not rated yet Nov 14, 2011
They learn quickly... Don't they?
bredmond
5 / 5 (1) Nov 14, 2011
They learn quickly... Don't they?


It is because they have a very open attitude and want to progress. I am starting my fifth consecutive year living in China and will confidently assert that the pervasive attitude amongst the Chinese is to develop their nation and society into a viable, flourshing state which is not impeded by traditionalism. In fact, the traditionalism is more just something that they adhere to just to keep everything together while they grow.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.