|China makes major leap with space docking|
The successful docking of the unmanned spacecraft Shenzhou VIII with the space lab module Tiangong-1 on Thursday is a major technological breakthrough for the country, a spokeswoman for
At Thursday, Shenzhou VIII, which was launched two days earlier, successfully rendezvoused and docked with Tiangong-1 target module, spokeswoman Wu Ping told a press conference. The country has never before joined two spacecraft together in space.
Tiangong-1, an unmanned module of a planned space lab, has been in orbit since its launch on September 29.
Equipment has been working properly since the successful docking and the coupled spacecraft have already orbited Earth nearly six times, Wu said.
Shenzhou VIII and Tiangong-1 will fly together for about 12 days and then conduct another space docking at an appropriate time, Wu said.
Through more than 10 years of efforts,
"Acquisition of the space docking technology is vital for
Space docking is among the fundamental technologies necessary for manned space operations, according to Wu.
The precision docking system and also the over 600 sets of equipment aboard Shenzhou VIII are all developed and made by
The docking system, composed of up to 10,000 parts, was developed by Chinese research institutions led by the Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight Technology, she added.
Shenzhou VIII, launched by a Long March 2F/Y8 rocket at Tuesday from
The country will establish a manned space station around 2020, Wu said.
The spacecraft Shenzhou VIII has an experiment device installed which Chinese and German scientists will carry out joint life-science experiments with, Wu said.
It is the first time
A total of 17 life-science experiment projects will be conducted via the loaded device, including 10 Chinese projects, six German projects, and one jointly-developed project.
Furthermore, the module Tiangong-1 also carried with it several scientific experiments, including those on remote sensing, space material science and space environment, she said.