September 21, 2011
China Launching Unmanned Space Module Next Week
A Chinese official said on Tuesday that the country plans to launch an experimental spacecraft next week that will be a big step in developing its first space station.
The news agency said the Tiangong 1, or "Heavenly Palace", will launch aboard the Long March rocket on a pad at Jiuquan in northwest Gansu province.
"The main task of the Tiangong 1 flight is to experiment in rendezvous and docking between spacecraft," the news agency quoted a Chinese spokesperson about the project.
According to Xinhua, Chinese scientists also plan to test the long-term unmanned operation and the temporarily manned operation of a space station, as well as carry out medical and technical experiments aboard the Tiangong-1.
The news agency reported that the launch was rescheduled earlier this month due to the failed launch of an experimental orbiter.
Yang Liwei, the first Chinese astronaut, told reporters in April that China will launch a space laboratory before 2016, and "around 2020, we plan to realize the construction of a space station in orbit for long-term stays in space".
The space station will be made up of the Tiangong 1, two laboratories, a cargo ship and a manned rocket, according to Xinhua news agency.
China became the world's third nation to put a man in space independently in 2003 once it launch Yang aboard the Shenzhou-5 space mission.
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