Monday, November 14, 2011

Chinese spacecraft dock in orbit for second time

China's Tiangong-1 and Shenzhou-8 unmanned spacecraft undocked and then redocked today.  The two first docked on November 2. They remained docked for twelve days before today's second docking test. Shenzhou-8 is next scheduled to depart and return to earth. Tiangong-1 will then raise it's orbit and await the arrival of it's first crew next year.

Plans are for two manned spacecraft, Shenzhou-9 and Shenzhou-10, to dock with Tiangong-1 next year.

Tiangong-1 is a rudimentary space station, that is probably more properly called a docking target.  China is currently planning two follow-on Tiangong's, each of which will be more fully functioning stations.

Chinese spacecraft dock in orbit for second time - Technology & science - Space - msnbc.com:
"Two unmanned Chinese spacecraft successfully docked together for a second time Monday, state-run media reported, in China's latest step toward placing its own space station in orbit.


The Shenzhou 8 craft re-docked with the Tiangong 1 module that will form part of a future space lab, and the two were jointly orbiting Earth, Xinhua News Agency reported, citing the mission's control center."