China Launched Its First Ever Docking Mission

On October 31 China successfully launched its first-ever docking mission. The Shenzhou 8 spacecraft blasted off atop a Chinese Long March 2F rocket at 5:58 p.m. EDT on October 31 (2:58 p.m. PDT, and 5:58 a.m. local time on Nov. 1) from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in Inner Mongolia. According to the Chinese state news agency Xinhua everything apparently went smoothly, Shenzhou 8 entered its initial orbit about 20 minutes after liftoff, and its power-generating solar panels opened on schedule. This unmanned vehicle have to test out technologies that could help the nation build a space station by 2020. In the next two days, Shenzhou 8 is slated to rendez-vous with the robotic Tiangong 1 space module, which has been orbiting Earth  for  a month. 

Shenzhou 8’s main mission is locating and latching onto its orbiting partner, but have to say that the newly launched spacecraft also has some subsidiary science aims. Shenzhou 8 is carrying a joint Chinese-German payload, for instance, that will test the effects of microgravity on various biological specimens, including plants, nematodes, bacteria and human cancer cells. These samples will be exposed to microgravity and space radiation for about three weeks.