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Shenzhou 8



Shenzhou 8, a Chinese satellite, was launched from Jiuquan on 31 October 2011 at 21:58 UT by a Long March 2F rocket. The satellite weighed 8.08 tonnes. Shenzhou 8 is scheduled for a three-week mission, during which time it is expected to dock twice with the unmanned space module TianGong 1 that was launched on 29 September 2011. This serves as a technology test for future space station docking and science experiments. The planned automatic docking and 17-day mission will also serve as a test for subsequent manned Shenzhou visits to Tiangong 1.

Prior to the launch of Shenzhou 8, the TianGong 1 orbit was adjusted to a 343 km altitude near-circular orbit to achieve the correct height and place for docking. After launch, Shenzhou 8 orbited to an altitude of more than 200 miles and afterwards completed its first successful docking on 02 November 2011 at 17:28 UT. TianGong 1 and Shenzhou 8 will stay docked for 12 days. After that undocking will occur and a second docking maneuver will take place. After another period of docking, the Shenzhou 8 spacecraft will be commanded to autonomously return to Earth. Together Shenzhou 8 and TianGong 1 will form a combined spacecraft stretching approximately 60 feet long. The TianGong 1 spacecraft is expected to stay in orbit for two years and rendezvous and dock with three different spaceships.

Shenzhou 8 also carries on-board several experiments a total of 17 research programs in the field of biomedicine, including plants, animals and human cells of the immune and nervous system. Among the research programs, China will conduct ten, Germany will conduct six, and one is a joint effort between the two countries.

Alternate Names

  • 37859
  • Shenzhou8

Facts in Brief

Launch Date: 2011-10-31
Launch Vehicle: Long March 2F
Launch Site: Jiuquan, Peoples Republic of China
Mass: 8080 kg

Funding Agency

  • China National Space Administration (Peoples Republic of China)


  • Engineering
  • Life Science

Additional Information

Questions and comments about this spacecraft can be directed to: Coordinated Request and User Support Office

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