Tiangong is a space station program of the People's Republic of China, with the goal of creating a third generation space station, comparable to Mir. This program is autonomous and unconnected to any other international space-active countries. The program began in 1992 as Project 921-2. As of March 2011, China is moving forward on a large multiphase construction program that will lead to a large space station around 2020.
China is launching its first space laboratory module Tiangong 1 today (Sept. 29) on a critical test flight to demonstrate the vital docking technology required for a future space station. The Tiangong 1 space lab will serve as a space station module prototype for China, which is the third country (after Russia and the United States) to develop the capability to launch astronauts into space and return them safely to Earth.Tiangong 1 is a cylindrical spacecraft that is about 34 feet (10.4 meters) long and 11 feet (3.4 m) wide. The space laboratory weighs about 8.5 metric tons, or about 9.4 short tons (U.S.).
Tiangong 1The Tiangong 1 space lab will serve as a space station module prototype for China, which is the third country (after Russia and the United States) to develop the capability to launch astronauts into space and return them safely to Earth.
The Tiangong 1 module is China's first spacecraft designed for orbital docking tests and space research. It's name translates to "Heavenly Palace" in English. The module is a prototype for a planned space station, which China plans to build in orbit as part of its human spaceflight program. China has been taking a stepping stone approach to human spaceflight that began with the 2003 launch of Yang Liwei, China's first astronaut. In 2005, China launched its second human spaceflight, a two-person mission, in 2005. A three-person flight followed in 2008, a mission that included China's first spacewalk.
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