China launched an unmanned spacecraft early Tuesday in its first attempt to dock with another vessel in Earth orbit, a key step toward building a space station.
The plan is for Shenzhou-8 to dock with the 8.5-ton Tiangong-1 laboratory module, which was launched in late September. Tuesday's launch is the second phase of a test of space rendezvous and docking capabilities, 震响essential for the operation of a manned space platform.
China sent its first astronaut into space in 2003.
中国对神舟系列飞船的发射与探索开始于20世纪90年代， The Shenzhou-8 mission successfully lifted off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwestern China shortly before 6 a.m. (6 p.m. Monday ET), a launch carried live on Chinese state television. A huge cheer broke out among mission controllers when the spacecraft reached orbit and its solar panels deployed.