Russian expert hails China's 1st space docking

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China's unmanned spacecraft Shenzhou-8 and its space lab module Tiangong-1, which connected early Thursday, is another huge step that benefited all humankind, a Russian expert says.

The successful docking, together with the earlier launch of Shenzhou-8 and the Tiangong-1, showed China was capable of performing large-scale, long-time and cutting-edge technical projects, said Andrey Ostrovsky, deputy director of the Far East Institute of the Russian Academy of Science, in an interview with Xinhua.

He recalled that, in the Arthur Clark novel, "Space Odyssey", the British science-fiction writer predicted a Chinese space vehicle would be the Earth's first messenger to reach deep space.

"If China keeps fulfilling its space program at the same breathtaking pace, Arthur Clark's prophesy made as long ago as in 1960s might come true," the Russian expert said, noting that in the following two years China would launch Shenzhou-9 and -10 spacecraft to dock with Tiangong-1.

The success of the docking procedure on Thursday makes China the third country in the world, following the United States and Russia, to master the technique, moving the country one step closer to establishing its own space station.

"Now China has shown it has become self-sufficient in the area of space exploration," Ostrovsky said.

The Russian professor said China's success has been especially notable compared to some western countries' space programs.

"Currently, China is the only nation with the space lab of its own, as Russia, U.S. and the European Space Agency share the International Space Station (ISS)," he said.

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