中国发射“天宫一号”,瞄准空间站 China Launches Spacecraft, Eyes Space Station

29 September, 2011

中国发射了一架无人飞船,这被称为北京建造自己空间站的第一步。这个叫做“天宫一号”、重8.5吨的飞行器在当地时间星期四晚间从中国西北部的戈壁沙漠上一个地点发射。这架飞船由长征2F火箭推动升空。中国各地的报纸刊登了有关这次发射的详细报道,国营电视台对这次发射成功表示喝彩。
  
将在11月1日发射的另一艘无人飞船“神舟八号”将与“天宫一号”对接。这将是中国第一次在太空中的对接。中国计划在明年年底前再进行几次太空对接作业,其中至少有一次是载人对接。这个目将要求在2016年底前建设一个空间实验室,在2020年左右完成建造一个重60吨的空间站。中国在2003年首次实现载人宇宙飞船升空,这距离美国和前苏联的创举有40多年之久。在中国进行最新努力之际,美国航天飞机舰队的退役为美国太空项目的未来划上问号。

China has launched an unmanned spacecraft, in what is described as Beijing's first step toward building its own space station.The 8.5 ton module -- known as Tiangong-1, or "Heavenly Palace" -- lifted off from a site in China's northwestern Gobi desert late Thursday night local time. The craft was propelled by a Long March 2F rocket. Detailed reports about the launch were splashed across Chinese newspapers and the development was hailed by state-run broadcasters.
  
Another unmanned spacecraft to be launched November 1 will meet up with the module for China's first space-docking procedure.China plans several more rendezvous-and-docking procedures before the end of next year -- at least one of which will be manned. The program calls for construction of a space laboratory by 2016 and completion of a 60-ton space station around 2020.China conducted its first manned space flight in 2003, more than four decades after pioneering flights by the United States and Soviet Union. The latest efforts come at a time when the retirement of the U.S. space shuttle fleet has left the future of the American space program in question.