UPDATE: China May Launch Space Station Test Module Soon

UPDATE: China May Launch Space Station Test Module Soon

UPDATE (Sept. 26 EDT): Xinhua reported today that the launch would be later this week (Thursday or Friday Beijing time) because of poor weather conditions.

The long awaited launch of China’s Tiangong-1 spacecraft may take place in the next few days. It is a step in developing a Chinese space station.

China’s news agency, Xinhua, reported on September 20 that the launch window would be open from September 27-30. Presumably that is in Beijing time, which is 12 hours ahead of Eastern Daylight Time, so that window could begin on September 26 EDT.

The plan is for Tiangong-1 (Heavenly Palace) to dock with an unoccupied Shenzhou 8 spacecraft that would be launched later this year. There are no plans for Chinese astronauts (taikonauts) to occupy either module. Instead, this is a docking test in preparation for an eventual occupied space station.

Tiangong-1 will be launched on a Long March II-F from China’s Jiuquan launch site in the Gobi desert, which is used for all of its human spaceflight launches. The launch was delayed while Chinese officials determined the reasons for the failure of a different version of the Long March rocket in August.

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