Chinese Accomplish Their First Docking in Space

Mike Wall over at Space.com reports:

A pair of robotic Chinese spacecraft docked in orbit for the first time ever Wednesday (Nov. 2), marking a key step toward China’s goal of building a space station and establishing a permanent manned presence in space by the end of the decade.

After a two-day orbital chase, the Shenzhou 8 spacecraft latched onto a prototype space lab module called Tiangong 1 at 1:30 p.m. EDT (1730 GMT; 1:30 a.m. local time Thursday in China). Ten minutes later, the docking was complete.

“Tiangong 1 has joined Shenzhou 8, has completed the rendezvous and docking process, and I announce the docking of Shenzhou 8 and Tiangong 1 has been a complete success,” said Chang Wanquan, chief commander of the China Manned Space Engineering Project.

The historic meet-up was designed to test technologies that China will use to assemble a space station in orbit, which the nation hopes to have up and running by 2020.

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