Chronicle of China's progress on manned space missions

Updated: 2011-12-19 16:52


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BEIJING - Following a successful docking mission between an orbiter and spacecraft, China is moving closer toward the goal of operating a permanent space station.

The government held a rally on Friday to celebrate the success of the country's docking mission between the target orbiter Tiangong-1 and the Shenzhou-8 spacecraft.

President Hu Jintao described the success of the space docking mission as a milestone in China's manned space program and a remarkable contribution to humanity's exploration of space.

The following is a chronicle of the country's manned space missions.

- Feb 19, 1960: China's first liquid-propellant rocket was launched from a paddy field near Shanghai.

- April 24, 1970: First artificial Earth satellite, Dong Fang Hong-1 Satellite, was launched from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center as China joined the former Soviet Union, America, France and Japan as the fifth country to launch satellites.

- Nov 26, 1975: The launch and recovery of the first recoverable satellite makes China the third country to master this technology.

- October 1986: Chinese top leadership approved the "Program 863," a national hi-tech initiative under which scientists began researching manned spaceships.

- 1992: the Chinese manned space program was officially adopted.

- From 1990 to 2002: China launched four unmanned spaceships (Shenzhou-1 to Shenzhou-4), laying a solid foundation for future manned spacecrafts.

- Oct 15, 2003: The launch of its first manned spacecraft, Shenzhou-5, sent one astronaut into space. The 21-hour flight allowed China to become the third country to independently conduct manned space flights, following the Soviet Union and the United States.

- Oct 12, 2005: Shenzhou-6 manned spacecraft was launched, sending two astronauts into space.

- Sept 28, 2008: China launched Shenzhou-7 spacecraft with three astronauts on board. One of them carried out a historic first spacewalk, and China became the third country in the world able to conduct extravehicular activity in space.

- Sept 29, 2011: China launched its first space lab module Tiangong-1, which has been unmanned.

- Nov 3, 2011: Unmanned spacecraft Shenzhou-8 successfully docked with Tiangong-1 space lab module, after it was launched on November 1, 2011.

Tiangong-1 will await Shenzhou-9 and Shenzhou-10 in the next two years.