Live: Shenzhou 8 docks with Tiangong-1
Welcome to our live coverage of the docking of Shenzhou 8 and Tiangong-1. It is to take place 330 kilometers above Gansu and Shaanxi Provinces. The two space vehicles will stay docked for 12 days. Please stay tuned for the latest updates on this story.  All time Beijing Time (GMT+0800)
[Live Photos]  • [Live Video]
13:13:04 Spokeswoman Wu Ping said at a press conference that China's spacecraft will conduct two more space docking missions in 2012. After that, the nation will begin to build a space lab and space station.
13:12:23 China will establish a manned space station around 2020, the country's manned space program spokeswoman said Thursday.
13:11:25 China's unmanned spacecraft Shenzhou-8 and its space lab module Tiangong-1, which joined together early Thursday, will fly together for about 12 days and then conduct the second space docking at an appropriate time, China's manned space program spokeswoman said.
01:51:41 Chinese President Hu Jintao, who is in France for the G-20 summit, sent a congratulatory message on the success of the country's first-ever space docking. The rendezvous and docking maneuver between spacecraft Shenzhou-8 and Tiangong-1 space lab module was completed Thursday morning.
01:51:30 Two Chinese spacecraft accomplished the country's first docking procedure early Thursday, silently coupling in space more than 343 km above Earth's surface. Nearly two days after it was launched, the unmanned spacecraft Shenzhou-8 docked with space lab module Tiangong-1, marking another great leap for China's space program. The success of the docking procedure makes China the third country in the world, after the United States and Russia, to master the technique, moving the country one step closer to establishing its own space station.
01:47:14 Commander-in-chief of China's manned space program Chang Wanquan announced Thursday morning that the country's first space docking between spacecraft Shenzhou-8 and Tiangong-1 space lab module was successful.
01:40:48 Ground control in Beijing completed verifications through onboard sensors and announced that the Shenzhou 8 docking of Tiangong-1 was successful.
01:39:31 The capture ring on spacecraft Shenzhou-8 pulled space lab module Tiangong-1 to itself early Thursday, according to the Beijing Aerospace Flight Control Center.
01:32:58 The capture ring on unmanned spacecraft Shenzhou-8 touched space lab module Tiangong-1 early Thursday, according to the Beijing Aerospace Flight Control Center.
01:31:44 Shenzhou 8 has docked with Tiangong-1.
01:26:39 Chinese leaders including top legislator Wu Bangguo and Premier Wen Jiabao arrived at the Beijing Aerospace Flight Control Center early Thursday morning to watch the live broadcast of the nation's first space docking.
00:55:20 Tiancixiaodiaomin on Sina Weibo: Mr. Long Lehao, Chinese rocket engineer, and member of Chinese Academy of Engineering has told the press that China's space programs gives top priority to safety, and will stick to the principle of being reliable, economic and sustainable. It's fair to say that China's manned space engineering has been implementing these principles very well. But maybe we can also be a little bolder.
00:55:11 Nanhuayouchen on Sina Weibo: Later they (Shenzhou 8 and Tiangong-1) are gonna kiss. Too bad power will go out in our dorms soon.
00:54:38 China achieved its first spacewalk, conducted by astronaut Zhai Zhigang, with the launch of the Shenzhou 7 in September 2008. Zhai carried out the spacewalk for 19 minutes and 35 seconds while astronauts Liu Boming and Jing Haipeng remained inside the Shenzhou 7. China thus became the third country in the world to conduct extravehicular activity in space, following the Soviet Union and the United States.
00:54:38 The launch of the Shenzhou 5 in October 2003 was another milestone for China's manned space program, as the mission successfully sent astronaut Yang Liwei into space, making China the third country to send a man into space after the Soviet Union and the United States.
00:54:38 On October 12, 2005 China conducted another manned spaceflight, this time sending astronauts Fei Junlong and Nie Haisheng into space aboard the Shenzhou 6. The astronauts carried out scientific and medical experiments onboard the craft.
00:54:38 The Shenzhou 4 was launched on December 29, 2002, featuring radiation-proof facilities and manual emergency rescue systems, despite the fact that the vessel was unmanned.
00:54:38 The Shenzhou 3, launched in March 2002, carried human physical monitoring sensors and "dummy astronauts." It was also equipped with escape and emergency rescue functions.
23:46:02 The reason for the docking to take place above Ganxu and Shanxi Provinces is because the ground control can maintain direct communication with both spacecrafts, CCTV reported.
22:48:13 The Shenzhou 2 was China's first "formal" unmanned spacecraft. It was launched in January 2001, conducting experiments in the areas of materials science, astronomy and physics in a microgravity environment.
22:47:59 The country's first spacecraft, the Shenzhou 1, was launched in November 1999, heralding the beginning of China's foray into manned space exploration.
22:16:24 Senior officials from the European Space Agency and the German Aerospace Center were invited for watching the launch of Shenzhou 8 at the Jiuquan center. German scientists designed bio-incubators for the experiments while their Chinese counterparts were in charge of the development of control equipment and apparatus connecting with the spacecraft, China's manned space program spokeswoman Wu Ping said earlier.
22:15:06 China is the third country, after Russia and the United States, to develop spacecraft capable of flying humans to space and back. China has launched three manned space missions, one each in 2003, 2005 and 2008.
22:09:51 Shenzhou 8’s onboard sensors will guide Shenzhou 8 the rest of the way automatically, in a slow and delicate approach that will take about two and a half hours. The docking itself — the locking of metal on metal — should take an additional 15 minutes.
22:05:39 The spacecraft rendezvous and docking technologies are necessary for building a space station, which China plans to assemble by 2020. At about 60 tons when completed, the Chinese station will be considerably smaller than the International Space Station, which is expected to continue operating through 2028.
22:05:23 Elsewhere in the space, the Russian cargo spacecraft Progress M-13M docked with the International Space Station (ISS) at 15:42 Moscow Time (1142 GMT) on Wednesday, the Russian Mission Control Center said.
21:50:57 Shenzhou 8 will begin automatic navigation and control at 11:00 p.m. in order to prepare to dock with the Tiangong-1 space lab module. The Tiangong-1's orbit has been adjusted for the docking procedure, while the Shenzhou 8 is operating in "good condition" and currently meets the requirements for docking, a spokesman said.
21:49:20 When the distance between the two craft narrows to 52 km, sensors on Shenzhou 8 will take over the job of ground control and safely guide Shenzhou 8's approach to Tiangong-1. Then it will take about two and a half hours to maneuver the craft to within centimeters of Tiangong-1. The docking is expected to take 15 minutes.
18:35:38 Shenzhou-8 spacecraft is ready to dock with Tiangong-1 space lab module after five swing-bys after its launch in early Tuesday morning, a command and control center said Wednesday.

Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday expressed congratulations to China for successfully launching unmanned spacecraft Shenzhou-8 on Nov. 1."I bless the spacecraft to return to Earth successfully after its airspace mission, China's success is the world's success," he said.

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