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China to put Tiangong-1 into space next year

China is to put an unmanned space module, Tiangong-1, into space in 2011, a space expert said in Beijing Wednesday.

Qi Faren, former chief designer of China's Shenzhou spaceships, said the country planned to launch Shenzhou-8, Shenzhou-9 and Shenzhou-10 spacecraft within two years to dock with Tiangong-1.

Qi, a member of the 11th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, made the remarks on the sidelines of the annual full session of the country's top political advisory body.

Weighing about 8.5 tonnes, Tiangong-1 is able to perform long-term unattended operation, which will be an essential step toward building a space station.