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China to get first space laboratory soon

China: Tiangong 1, China’s first space laboratory is all set to take off before the end of September 2011. Tiangong was originally expected to launch in 2010, and was also once slated for launch in the first half of this year. It will remain in orbit for at least two years.
Tiangong is expected to host a crew on the first laboratory launched in this programme. CG animation and a model of Tiangong exhibited recently at a UN office in Vienna yielded little further clues to the spacecraft or its mission. There are a few more antennas clustered around the laboratory’s docking port than announced before. Some of these could be used for rendezvous and docking purposes. A central corridor for the crew is surrounded by equipment and storage racks. 
Tiangong 1 will presumably orbit in a solo mode for at least two weeks. This will give controllers time to “check out” the spacecraft in orbit, and make sure it is ready for its next tasks. The next stage in this programme will be the launch of the unmanned Shenzhou 8 spacecraft, which will dock with Tiangong 1.
Source: Space Daily