Shenzhou 8: Photos From China's 1st Space Docking Mission

Shenzhou 8 Lifts Off

China Manned Space Engineering Office

Launch of Shenzhou 8 on October 31, 2011, was successful. According to the orbit calculation, the Shenzhou 8 spaceship has entered its operating orbit with a perigee height of 200 km and apogee height of 329 km. The obliquity of the orbit is 42 degrees, and the orbiting cycle is 5379 seconds.

Tiangong-1-Shenzhou-8 Docking


Chinese TV shows the Tiangong 1 module docking with the Shenzhou 8 spacecraft Nov. 2, 2011.

Shenzhou 8 Launch

China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology

China's Shenzhou 8 rocket lifts off on October 31, 2011.

View of Tiangong 1 From Shenzhou 8


A view of China's Tiangong 1 space lab module taken by the approaching Shenzhou 8 spacecraft, just minutes before the two vessels docked in Earth orbit.

Chinese Mission Control


Chinese Mission Controllers watch as the Tiangong 1 spacecraft makes the country's first docking maneuver with Shenzhou 8.

China Space Program Chief Commander


Chang Wanquan, the chief commander of the China Manned Space Engineering Project, addressed Chinese mission control after the country's successful first space docking.

Tiangong 1 and Shenzhou 8 Docked in Space

China Central Television

Video still showing China's Shenzhou 8 spacecraft docked with the Tiangong 1 lab module on Nov. 3, 2011.

Shenzhou 8 Launch


China's unmanned Shenzhou 8 spacecraft launches on Oct. 31, 2011, on a mission to dock with the prototype space module Tiangong 1.

Shenzhou 8 Launch — Rocket Close-up


China's Shenzhou 8 spacecraft launched into Earth orbit on Oct. 31, 2011 atop a Long March 2F rocket. This close-up shot shows the rocket in action, shortly after liftoff.

China's Long March 2F Rocket


The Chinese Long March 2F rocket due to carry the Shenzhou 8 spacecraft to orbit in November 2011 rolls to the launch pad in Mongolia.

Shenzhou 8 Spacecraft Undergoing Testing

China Manned Space Engineering Office

Photo of the Shenzhou 8 spacecraft undergoing testing earlier in 2011.

Join our Space Forums to keep talking space on the latest missions, night sky and more! And if you have a news tip, correction or comment, let us know at: Staff
News and editorial team is the premier source of space exploration, innovation and astronomy news, chronicling (and celebrating) humanity's ongoing expansion across the final frontier. Originally founded in 1999, is, and always has been, the passion of writers and editors who are space fans and also trained journalists. Our current news team consists of Editor-in-Chief Tariq Malik; Editor Hanneke Weitering, Senior Space Writer Mike Wall; Senior Writer Meghan Bartels; Senior Writer Chelsea Gohd, Senior Writer Tereza Pultarova and Staff Writer Alexander Cox, focusing on e-commerce. Senior Producer Steve Spaleta oversees our space videos, with Diana Whitcroft as our Social Media Editor.