October 26, 2011
China Launching Unmanned Spacecraft In November
China said on Wednesday that it will launch an unmanned spacecraft early next month that will attempt to dock with an experimental module.
This move is another step closer for the country to place a manned permanent space station in orbit.
The Shenzhou 8 will carry out maneuvers to dock up with Tiangong 1 module, which is currently in orbit.
The spacecraft will ride on a modified Long March-2F rocket into space, which were transferred to the launch pad early on Wednesday.
The Tiangong 1 launched in September and is currently orbiting 217 miles above the Earth.
The official Xinhua News Agency said that the Chinese space agency is also conducting experiments involving growing crystals in zero gravity.
The agency said that plans call for launching two other experimental modules for more tests before the actual station is launched in three sections between 2020 and 2022.
The Chinese station will be smaller than the International Space Station, which will stop operating after 2028.
China launched its second moon orbiter last year after it became only the third country to send its astronauts walking in space outside their orbiting craft in 2008.
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