JIUQUAN, Nov. 2 (Xinhua) -- China successfully launched its Shenzhou-8 spacecraft early Tuesday morning, marking a key step toward fulfilling the country's dreams of establishing its own space station.
The spacecraft is due to dock with the Tiangong-1 space lab module early Thursday morning. The Tiangong-1 was sent into space in late September.
The rendezvous and docking between Shenzhou-8 and Tiangong-1 are pivotal, as the procedures are a must for the construction of a permanent manned space station, which China hopes to build around 2020.
China has succeeded in launching seven spacecraft and sending six astronauts into space since 1999, building up experience for the launch of the Shenzhou-8, as well as the planned launches of the Shenzhou-9 and -10 in 2012.