China Starts Space Station Build

A Long March-2FT1 carrier rocket loaded with Tiangong-1 unmanned space lab module blasts off from the launch pad at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China's Gansu Province, Sept. 29, 2011.

China’s space program has taken another step forward with the launch of the first building block of a space station. A Long March rocket carrying an unmanned space laboratory, Tiangong-1, was sent into space from the Jiuquan spaceport in the Gobi Desert on Thursday evening. The photo above shows the craft blasting off. If the laboratory is placed into orbit successfully, a second module will be sent up in a couple of weeks to dock with it. Astronauts will follow next year. It will take a decade for the space station to be built out fully.

China was late into space – the U.S. first docked spacecraft in 1966 – but it is determinedly playing catch up. Like the U.S. and the old Soviet Union before it, China sees its space program as both fostering the development of advanced technologies for military and civilian use, and as a statement of its emergence as a world power. Witness the fact that Prime Minister Wen Jiabao and fellow Politburo member He Guoqiang were in the Jiuquan command center for the launch while President Hu Jintao and six other members of the Politburo, including Hu’s assumed successor, Xi Jinping, watched the blast-off from the space program’s flight control center in Beijing.

State media is giving the latest launch a suitable fanfare.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Space

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s