China’s first space lab module blasts offSeptember 29th, 2011 - 9:32 pm ICT by IANS
Beijing, Sep 29 (IANS) China’s first space lab module — Tiangong-1 — blasted off Thursday from Jiuquan satellite launch center in the northwest desert area.
It blasted off at 9.16 p.m. (Beijing time), Xinhua reported.
The unmanned module, carried by Long March-2FT1 rocket, will test space docking with a spacecraft later this year, paving the way for China to become the third country in the world to operate a permanent space station around 2020, the report said.
The Tiangong-1 will orbit the Earth for about one month to await Shenzhou-8 unmanned spacecraft. Once the two vehicles successfully rendezvour, they will conduct the first space docking at a height of 340 km above Earth surface.
The module carries special cameras which will take hyperspectral images of China’s vast farmlands to detect heavy metal pollution and pesticide residue as well as plant disease, said Zhang Shancong, deputy chief designer of the Tiangong-1.
Chinese President Hu Jintao watched the launch from the Beijing Aerospace Flight Control Center, witnessing the latest endeavour of China’s space programme since 1992.
Premier Wen Jiabao and He Guoqiang, also members of the standing committee of the political bureau of the Communist Party of China’s central committee, were also present on this occasion.
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