The 19,000 pound Tiangong 1 (translation Heavenly Palace) module was successfully launched aboard a Long March 2F rocket, witnessed by many leading Chinese politicians and dignitaries, including President Hu Jintao, watching from the Beijing control centre.
The Tiangong 1 spacecraft will steadily make its way up to maintain an eventual orbit of approximately 220 miles (354km), where it will wait to be joined by an unmanned Shenzhou 8 spacecraft sometime in November. The two vessels will then take part in China’s first space docking manoeuvre, forming a mini-space station some 60 feet long for 12 days, before the Shenzhou module returns to Earth.
Further missions will visit Tiangong 1 next year, potentially carrying Chinese astronauts on board as China seeks to consolidate its place in the future of space exploration. The very best of luck to them.