Monday, June 10, 2013

Shenzhou 10 prepares for mission to Tiangong 1

Gantry tower surrounds the Long March rocket. Credit: CMSE.

On Monday June 3, the Chinese Space Agency CMSE (China Manned Space Engineering) rolled out the Shenzhou 10 to the launch pad. The spacecraft sits atop a Long March 2F rocket and is planned to lift three Taikonauts into space sometime around June 9-11. So really, any time now.

Shenzhou 10 rollout. Credit: CMSE

This will be the second Chinese mission to the Tiangong 1 space station, currently orbiting the Earth. The last mission there, Shenzhou 9 in June 2012, took three spacefarers on a short visit to the station and included China's first woman astronaut, or Taikonaut as Chinese space travelers are designated. On that mission, Liu Yang and her fellow crewmembers stayed with the station for 10-11 days.

The Shenzhou 10 mission is expected to attempt a fly-around of the station, followed by a docking and a 12-day (I think) stay before coming back to Earth. According to, Chinese space agency leaders claim this will be the third in a series of tests for the Agency to master the art of placing a station in space and transferring crew members. The goal is for China to build a larger manned station by 2020.

You can find more about the mission at and watch for the launch news at

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