China to launch two space modules

April 30th, 2011 - 3:30 am ICT by IANS  

Beijing, April 30 (IANS) China will launch two unmanned space modules in the second half of this year, a media report said.

The modules, named Tiangong-1 and Shenzhou-8, will take part in the first space docking maneuver ever conducted by Chinese astronauts, said Yang Liwei, deputy head of China’s Manned Space Engineering Office.

The 8.5-tonne Tiangong-1, or “Heavenly Palace 1″, is expected to dock with the unmanned Shenzhou-8 spacecraft, according to China Daily Friday.

During its two-year lifespan, Tiangong-1 will dock with two other Shenzhou spacecraft, Shenzhou-9 and Shenzhou-10, which will be launched in 2012, it said.

Space docking is recognized as a key technique used in the construction of space stations. Yang said China will have its own space station by 2020.

A 21-member team, including two women astronauts, is currently undergoing training for the docking procedure, he said.

“If things go well, the team’s female astronauts are expected to conduct a manned space mission in the future,” the daily quoted Fei Junlong, head of the team, as saying.

Yang and Fei undertook space missions in 2003 and 2005 respectively.

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