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Chinese news agency Xinhua reports construction of the country's first space laboratory module, Tiangong-1, is complete. The 8.5-tonne module is scheduled for launch by Long March II-F in 2001.The unmanned spacecraft Shenzhou-8 is planned to dock with Tiangong-1 following its launch in the second half of 2011. If successful, plans then call for Shenzhou-9 and -10, scheduled for manned flights in 2012, to dock with the module.Tiangong-1 (left) and Shenzhou-8. (Concept: CNSA)Tiangong-1 is to be followed by Tiangong-2, with more facilities for experiments, and Tiangong-3, with a regenerative life-support system. An unmanned cargo carrier is planned to be launched to Tiangong-3 in the 2014-16 timeframe.
Copyright © 2013, Aviation Week, a division of McGraw Hill Financial.