What’s new in space flight? With only days to go, China is ready to launch an unmanned spacecraft that will attempt to dock with an experimental space station module – Tiangong 1. The Shenzhou 8 mission is the latest step in what will be a decade-long effort to place a manned permanent space station in orbit.
The official Xinhua News Agency announced the craft is ready to embark on a series of maneuvers to connect with the Tiangong 1 module. The orbiting craft was launched in the latter half of September and continuing to perform as expected. The unmanned craft and its modified Long March-2F launch rocket were transferred via a 20-meter-wide railway early Wednesday. Here they are poised to go at the launch pad located at Jiuquan space base on the edge of the Gobi desert in northern China. The launch pad is located a scant 1,500 meters away from the assembling and testing center and it took nearly two hours to complete the transfer.
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“Technicians completed testing on the assembling of Shenzhou-8 and the rocket after they were delivered to the launch center at the end of August.” said Lu Jinrong, the launch center’s chief engineer. “In the next few days, the launch center will continue testing the spacecraft and the rocket, and inject propellent before the final launch in early November.”
According to spokeswoman Wu Ping: “The first space docking for China will be conducted when the Tiangong-1 drops from a 350-kilometer-high orbit to a 343-kilometer-high orbit to rendezvous with the Shenzhou-8. The Tiangong-1 and Shenzhou-8 will fly for about 12 days after the first docking, and will conduct another docking test at an appropriate time in flight, Wu said.0 After the two docking tests, the Shenzhou-8 will return to Earth’s surface and the Tiangong-1 will rise to its original orbit to wait for the next docking test.”
Rock on, China!
Original Story Source: Yahoo News.