Shenzhou 8

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Mission emblem
Shenzhou 8 (right) docked at Tiangong 1 (left)
Mission dates
Mission: Shenzhou 8
COSPAR-ID : 2011-063A
Spacecraft: Shenzhou
Launcher: Long march 2F
Crew: no
Begin: October 31, 2011, 9:58 p.m.  UTC
Starting place: Jiuquan Cosmodrome
Landing: November 17, 2011, 11:32 a.m. UTC
Landing place: Inner Mongolia
◄ Before / After ►
Shenzhou 7
Shenzhou 9

Shenzhou 8 was the eighth Shenzhou spacecraft mission under the Chinese space program . After seven pre-missions, Shenzhou 8 was the first Chinese spaceship to perform a docking maneuver . In the unmanned mission, Shenzhou 8 demonstrated that the Shenzhou spaceship is ready for series production.

Mission history

The launch took place on October 31, 2011 at 21:58 UTC (November 1, 2011 05:58 CNST). In addition to testing the flight characteristics of the spacecraft itself, a Chinese spacecraft carried out a coupling maneuver in space for the first time on November 3rd at 17:36 UTC (November 4th 01:36 CNST). The coupling target was the likewise unmanned Chinese space laboratory Tiangong 1 , which was launched into space on September 29, 2011 at 1:16 pm UTC . The coupling adapter looks outwardly similar to the APAS system, which was used by the space shuttle when docking with the ISS , but functions differently in detail and is not compatible with it.

After almost eleven days, Shenzhou 8 disconnected from Tiangong 1 on November 14 and retreated at 140 m. The spaceship then approached the space station again. This time the approach and coupling were carried out in daylight. On November 16 at 10:30 UTC, Shenzhou 8 finally undocked and landed in China the following day.


In addition to the tests of coupling and flight characteristics, scientific experiments were planned during the mission. For the first time, the Manned Space Agency enabled foreign scientists to conduct research on board a Chinese spacecraft. The German participation was coordinated by DLR .

The centerpiece of the biological experiments was an incubator called Simbox , which was designed and manufactured by EADS Astrium . This incubator has a volume of 34 liters and can accommodate 40 experimental units, some of which are exposed to weightlessness, others are subjected to gravity conditions through a centrifuge, whereby the effects of gravity on the samples can be examined. The samples on board Shenzhou 8 consisted of plants, roundworms, bacteria, and human cancer cells.

Six experiments came from the German universities of Erlangen , Hohenheim , Magdeburg , Tübingen and Hamburg , Freiburg and the Charité Berlin . Two further experiments were carried out in German-Chinese cooperation by the Universities of Erlangen and Wuhan and the University of Hamburg and the Institute for Biophysics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Chinese spaceship docks to test module. Focus, November 4, 2011, accessed November 18, 2011 .
  2. 杨 璐茜 、 胡 潇潇: 不惧 比较 、 资源 分享 —— 中国 将 提供 未来 空间站 应用 机会. In: June 9, 2017, accessed July 21, 2020 (Chinese).
  3. ^ Daniel Maurat: Shenzhou 8 docked again at Tiangong 1., November 14, 2011, accessed on November 18, 2011 .
  4. ^ Daniel Maurat: Successful landing of Shenzhou 8., November 17, 2011, accessed on November 18, 2011 .