Shenzhou-8 Returns to Earth

Shenzhou-8 Returns to Earth

China’s Shenzhou-8 spacecraft returned to Earth today (November 17, 2011) after successfully completing two dockings with the Tiangong-1 space station module. Neither craft had a crew.

Bob Christy’s website shows the landing site as near 42.1 degrees North, 101.1 degrees East in the primary landing zone in China. The landing time was 11:32:16 GMT (06:32:16 EST).

Shenzhou 8 was launched on October 31 EDT (November 1 local time in China). The first docking occurred two days later, creating China’s first space station, albeit unoccupied. Shenzhou 8 later undocked and redocked with Tiangong-1 (Heavenly Palace).

Chinese authorities say that two more Shenzhou spacecraft will be sent to Tiangong-1 during the next two years. At least one of them will have a crew aboard.

Correction:  An earlier version of this article said that Shenzhou 8 was launched on October 31 EST, or Eastern Standard Time, but it was Eastern Daylight Time (EDT).  This version of the article also clarifies that “today” refers to November 17, 2011, the day that Shenzhou 8 returned to Earth, by which time the United States had changed to Standard Time and thus EST is correct in that case.

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