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China launches unmanned, auto-docking spacecraft China launches unmanned, auto-docking spacecraft
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China launches unmanned, auto-docking spacecraft
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Old 3rd November 2011, 07:57   #1
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Default China launches unmanned, auto-docking spacecraft

China isn't wasting any time getting its space station ducks in a row. After launching the first piece of the Tiangong (Heavenly Palace) in late September, the country has already put its first companion craft, Shenzhou-8, into orbit alongside it. The Shenzhou is another unmanned craft, packed with a collection of 17 biological experiments. The real fun though, will begin on day three of its mission, when it attempts an automated docking with the Tiangong. Being able to send up unmanned supply vehicles has its obvious advantages, but this is only a test run -- don't expect self-piloting craft to start ferrying food and replacement parts to the ISS any time soon. After 12 days of conjoined orbiting, the Shenzhou-8 will disengage from the Tiangong and head back to Earth. Hey, maybe our astronauts can save some cash by hiding in the cargo hold of these Chinese robo-craft.
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