November 18, 2011
China Completes Rendezvous And Docking Mission
China fully completed its first-ever space rendezvous and docking mission on Thursday after Shenzhou-8 successfully landed back on Earth.
The mission completed after having successfully undergone a rendezvous and docking between the target orbiter Tiangong-1 and the Shenzhou-8 spacecraft.
China's Vice Premier Zhang Dejiang on Thursday evening delivered a congratulatory note from the central authorities saying that the mission was an important milestone in the history of China's manned space program, and a landmark achievement in China's pursuit in building a country of innovation.
The Shenzhou-8 launched from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center on November 1 and landed in north China on Thursday. The spacecraft conducted two docking tests with the Tiangong-1 space module.
The Tiangong-1 space module was launched from Jiuquan on September 29.
The safe return of the Shenzhou-8 marked the end of the 49-day space docking mission. The country hopes this is step in the right direction for having its own permanent manned space station around 2020.
China is expected to launch two more spacecraft next year to dock with Tiangong-1, with at least one being a manned mission.