China completes successful space docking

Nov. 2, 2011 at 8:15 PM
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BEIJING, Nov. 2 (UPI) -- Two Chinese spacecraft accomplished the country's first docking maneuver in space, coming together more than 200 miles above the Earth, officials said.

Two days after it was launched, the unmanned spacecraft Shenzhou-8 docked with space lab module Tiangong-1 early Wednesday, China's state-run news agency Xinhua reported.

The procedure makes China the third individual country in the world, after the United States and Russia, to accomplish docking between two craft in space. The European Space agency has also successfully conducted docking operations with the International Space Station.

The success moves China one step closer to establishing its own space station, Zhou Jianping, chief designer of China's manned space program, said.

"This will make it possible for China to carry out space exploration on a larger scale," he said.

The Shenzhou-8 and Tiangong-1 will separate after flying together for 12 days, then a second docking procedure will be undertaken, Xinhua said.

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