China’s Unmanned Spacecraft Launched Today
The unmanned Shenzhou-8 spacecraft was launched today at 5:58 am at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center. The spacecraft will then dock with China’s first space laboratory module Tiangong-1 marking its first space docking and a step forward to building a permanent space station in 2020.
After docking with Tiangong-1, Shenzhou will separate itself after 12 days in orbit but will dock for a second time at a later date and time. If this is successful, China will be only the third nation to have completed a space docking procedure right after Russia and the United States.
Chinese scientists together with some German scientists will be conducting life science experiments in the spacecraft. The research program is mainly dominated by 10 Chinese scientists together with 6 German scientists collaborating on one program. China is also considering sending female astronauts in the space docking missions by next year.