Shenzhou-8 Space Docking a Success
Following the successful launch of the Shenzhou 8 unmanned rocket, China finally took a step toward fulfilling their ambition of establishing a manned space station when they accomplished their first successful space docking. Shenzhou-8 attached itself onto the Tiangong-1 module more than 343 kilometers above the earth.
Shenzhou-8 is a modified version of the space capsules that took the first mainland astronauts to space in their exploration program. China is now aiming to complete construction of their space station by 2020, which requires perfecting docking technology, a maneuver that was perfected by the Americans and Russians in the 1960s.
The technique is said to be hard since two vessels that are placed in the same orbit and revolving at a thousand kilometers per hour must come together carefully to avoid crashing into each other and destroying the vessels.
A live broadcast of the docking was viewed by Premier Wen Jiabao together with other leaders at the Beijing Aerospace Flight Control Center, while President Hu Jintao sent a congratulatory message. The docking took eight minutes and was aided by microwave radars, video cameras and laser distance measurers.