China Conducts Second Space Docking

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BEIJING, Nov. 14 (UPI) — China says it has completed a second successful space docking between two unmanned spacecraft in orbit.

The country’s Shenzhou 8 and Tiangong 1 vehicles performed China’s first space docking Nov. 2 and have been orbiting together since then, SPACE.com reported.

Early Monday, the two spacecraft were disengaged and then performed another successful docking about a half-hour later, Chinese space officials said.

The docking is a step towards China’s goal of a manned space station by 2020, China’s state-run news agency Xinhua said.

Tiangong 1, a prototype space module for the planned space station, launched first on Sept. 29 while the Shenzhou 8 followed with an unmanned liftoff Nov. 3.

Two more docking missions are planned for 2012, Chinese space agency officials said, with one to be conducted with Chinese astronauts, called Taikonauts, on board.

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