Background Information on China's Human Spaceflight Program
China's human spaceflight program, Project 921, officially began in 1992. The scheduled launch tomorrow of Shenzhou-9 is the ninth flight in the series, but only the fourth to carry a crew.
Shenzhou 1-4 were automated tests of the spacecraft; Shenzhou-8 was an automated test of rendezvous and docking procedures with the Tiangong-1 space station, which also was unoccupied. The following table provides information on the three crewed missions flown to date and tomorrow's mission.
The Tiangong-1 space station was launched in September 2011. It is a small (8.6 metric ton) module, especially when compared to the 400 metric ton International Space Station (ISS), but it is a space station and a successful mission will be a signficant step forward for the Chinese human spaceflight program.
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