China's spacecraft comes back to Earth

Nov 17, 2011
China's unmanned spacecraft Shenzhou VII sits on the launch pad at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in the northwestern province of Gansu in October 2011. The Shenzhou VIII returned to Earth on Thursday, state media reported, after completing two space dockings that have pushed forward the nation's ambitious space programme.

China's unmanned spacecraft Shenzhou VIII returned to Earth on Thursday, state media reported, after completing two space dockings that have pushed forward the nation's ambitious space programme.

The vessel's re-entry module landed in the northern region of Inner Mongolia after it separated from its orbital and propelling modules just before entering Earth's atmosphere, the official said.

Shenzhou VIII, which means "divine vessel" in Chinese, took off from northwest China on November 1, and docked with the Tiangong-1 experimental module twice in the nation's first ever "kiss" in space.

The successful manoeuvre is key to China's ambition to set up a by 2020 -- a goal that requires it to perfect docking technology.

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.

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.

China is expected to launch two more spacecraft next year to dock with Tiangong-1 -- the Shenzhou IX and Shenzhou X -- at least one of which will carry astronauts on board.

Explore further: Backpack strap used by Apollo 14 moonwalker sells for $41K

Related Stories

China completes second space docking

Nov 14, 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 may send first woman into space

Oct 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

Oct 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

Can sound help us detect 'earthquakes' on Venus?

Apr 23, 2015

Detecting an "earthquake" on Venus would seem to be an impossible task. The planet's surface is a hostile zone of crushing pressure and scorching temperatures—about 874 degrees F, hot enough to melt lead—that ...

Titan's atmosphere useful in study of hazy exoplanets

Apr 23, 2015

With more than a thousand confirmed planets outside of our solar system, astronomers are attempting to identify the atmospheres of these distant bodies to determine if they could possibly host life.

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

omatumr
1 / 5 (2) Nov 18, 2011
Congratulations!

May your space sciences avoid political influence.

With kind regards,
Oliver K. Manuel
Former NASA Principal
Investigator for Apollo
http://myprofile....anuelo09

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.