The unmanned Tiangong-1 — or ‘Heavenly Palace’ — test module is in the final stages of preparation at China’s Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in northwest China, according to a report in the Wuhan Evening News.
The 8.5-ton module, whose launch has been long-awaited as a badge of China’s ascendant national and technological ambitions, will form the test-bed for a larger 60-ton space station which is China wants to have in orbit by the early 2020s.
Citing sources at the launch centre, the paper said the launch of Tiangong-1 spacelab could take place “in the first 10 days of September”, earlier than previously anticipated and ahead of China’s National Day celebrations on October 1.
There had been fears the launch might be delayed after a Chinese Long March II — C rocket malfunctioned last week during the launch of an experimental orbiter.
That launch was the third in just a week for China’s space programme, however the official Xinhua news agency said the accident would not delay Tiangong-1’s launch since it uses a different Long March II-F rocket. …
via China ‘set to launch rival to International Space Station’ – Telegraph.
Great, but I hope this is not secretly a space based nuclear missile launch platform they are sending up.