BEIJING, Oct. 26 (UPI) — China’s unmanned Shenzhou-8 spacecraft will be launched early next month for the first docking with the country’s space lab module, scientists said Wednesday.
The spacecraft will be launched from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China, the official Xinhua news agency reported, but the launch dates were not announced.
The report said Shenzhou-8 is expected to perform China’s first space docking with Tiangong-1, or Heavenly Palace-1, a space lab module launched in September.
The Shenzhou-8 docking will be followed by similar dockings by two more spacecraft in the next two years.
Earlier reports quoted Chinese scientists that the docking tests and experiments conducted through the Tiangong-1 module will provide experience for China’s construction of a permanent manned space station around 2020.