China plans to launch unmanned space module next year: expert   2010-03-03 12:31:27 FeedbackPrintRSS

* The unmanned Heavenly Palace would finally be transformed into a manned space lab;

* The spaceships to dock with the module would possibly carry seeds from Taiwan for experiments;

* Shenzhou-9 and Shenzhou-10 would carry two or three astronauts each;

* The new rocket production base in Tianjin would be capable of producing 12 carrier rockets a year once completed;

* Experts are working on the new generation of carrier rockets, Long March V.

BEIJING, March 3 (Xinhua) -- China plans to launch an unmanned space module, Tiangong-1, in 2011, which is expected to accomplish the country's first space docking and regarded as an essential step toward building a space station, an expert said Wednesday.

Tiangong, or the Heavenly Palace, would finally be transformed into a manned space lab after experimental dockings with three Shenzhou spacecraft, which are expected to be put into space within two years following the module's launch, said Qi Faren, former chief designer of Shenzhou spaceships.

Qi, a member of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), made the remarks on the sidelines of the annual full session of the top political advisory body that opened Wednesday afternoon.

A spokesman of China's space program said in February last year that the country had planned to launch the unmanned module into orbit as early as the end of 2010. Qi said the delay was due to technical reasons.

Weighing about 8.5 tonnes, Tiangong-1 is able to perform long-term unattended operation, which will be an essential step toward building a space station.

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Editor: Wang Guanqun
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