China is set to launch its spacecraft Shenzhou 8 (Shenzhou VIII) on Tuesday, November 1, 2011, which is now on its launch pad and undergoing some final checking.
As noted at Chinese news site, People’s Daily Online, on Monday, October 31, 2011, Shenzhou VIII is now at Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center and will take off at 5:58 am China Standard Time (5:58 pm Oct. 31 EDT).
According to the report, the unmanned Chinese spacecraft is the ountry’s most important space mission after Shenzhou V, which was launched via its carrier rocket, Long March-2F.
The said launch happened in October 2003, having 4 previous flights of unmanned Shenzhou missions since 1999, making China the third country to launch space mission, next to the US and Russia.
Meanwhile, the Shenzhou 8 spacecraft will use an upgraded Long March-2F, which were brought to the launch pad last Wednesday, October 26. Fuel will be injected into the carrier rocket today, Monday.
The entire transfer, from the assembly and testing center to the launch pad, was said to have lasted for 2 hours, using a 1,500-meter-long rail with a speed of not more than 20 meters per minute.
Shenzhou VIII will be docked with Tiangong I, China’s first space station, which was launched last September 9, with the 8-ton space lab reportedly has sufficient resources for one Chinese astronaut in two months.
The docking of Shenzhou 8 at the Tiangong I (or Heavenly Palace-1) will be China’s first space docking experience, which is also being prepared to for the country’s first manned space mission, the launch of Shenzhou 9 in 2012.