China Prepares To Launch 'Heavenly Palace' Space Module

Jiuquan Satellite Launch centreJiuquan Satellite Launch Center3

Photo: wikipedia commons

Deep in the Gobi desert, the Jiuquan Satellite Launch centre (JSLC) is making final preparations for next week’s launch of the Tiangong-1 or Heavenly Palace experimental space module.The module is set to rendezvous with the Shenzou-8 spacecraft that will launch next week after the Tiangong. Both exercises are part of China’s effort to build and operate the next manned space station, and bring it one step closer to matching efforts by the United States and Russia.

This will be the first time China’s command centre has performed the docking maneuvers and will be a closely watched learning process.

The launch is scheduled between September 27 and September 30 to coincide with the country’s National Day celebrations October 1.

China’s effort at developing its space prowess comes as Russia announces manned missions are no longer a priority and the United States retires its fleet of space shuttles.

NASA officials say they will not test a new rocket to send astronauts to space until 2017.

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