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China plans to build its own space station by 2020

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An illustration of a proposed Chinese space station planned for by 2020. Photo: Chinese Society of Astronautics.

BEIJING (PTI): China plans to set up its orbital space station by 2020, country's first astronaut has said, even as it has stepped up efforts to launch an unmanned unit to conduct docking tests.

Both manned and unmanned spacecraft Shenzhou-9 and Shenzhou-10 will be launched to dock with Tiangong space station in 2012 to conduct preparations for building the space station.

China plans to set up its orbital space station by 2020, Yang Liwei, China's first astronaut said.

Before that China plans to launch the unmanned space station Tiangong-1 and Shenzhou-8 next year to conduct the first unmanned space docking test which is as an essential for building orbital space station, Yang said.

Yang said that China's manned space project has three phases which included manned space flight and a successful spacewalk, state run People’s Daily quoted him as saying while visiting a space ground station at Xian today.

Shenzhou 8 is a planned unmanned flight of China's Shenzhou programme, which is scheduled for launch in 2011.

According to the Chinese space agency (CNSA), the Shenzhou 8 spacecraft will be remotely docked with the Tiangong 1 space module (itself expected to launch in 2011).

This unmanned docking attempt - China's first - will be followed in the same year with the manned Shenzhou 9 mission which will perform a manned docking (also China's first) with the Tiangong 1 module.

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