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Chinese find space docking metaphor for love
by Zhou Erjie for Xinhua News
Beijing (XNA) Nov 03, 2011

Shenzhou-8 to commence automatic navigation for docking procedure
Beijing (XNA) Nov 03 - A spokesman with China's manned space program said Wednesday afternoon that the unmanned spacecraft Shenzhou-8 will begin automatic navigation and control at 11:00 p.m. in order to prepare to dock with the Tiangong-1 space lab module. The Tiangong-1's orbit has been adjusted for the docking procedure, while the Shenzhou-8 is operating in "good condition" and currently meets the requirements for docking, the spokesman said.

In the eyes of Chinese media, the country's first space docking is not only rocket science, but also a source of inspiration for an imagined space romance.

In the most popular metaphor, Chinese media describe the upcoming rendezvous and docking attempt as a "kiss in space" between the unmanned spacecraft Shenzhou-8 and space lab module Tiangong-1.

The two orbiters are expected to link up in the early hours of Thursday as they soar over Chinese territory at a speed of 7.8 km per second.

In Tianfu Zaobao, a Sichuan-based daily, a poem entitled "Lovers' Talk" detailed how the "kiss" - "romantic," "profound," "sweet," but "short" - will "elevate China's aerospace enterprise to a new height."

"Tiangong, my lover, for the arrival of this moment - wait for me. I'm coming," reads the poem at the end.

In an article posted on, Shenzhou-8, the chase spacecraft, was compared with a passionate lad, while Tiangong-1, which has already been in orbit for more than a month, is a shy girl who "arrives early at the rendezvous and strolls around and around, waiting for her lover."

"If we compare the space docking mission with the pact of a pair of lovers deeply in love, it will be the most romantic story of the season," the article said.

The docked Shenzhou-Tiangong combination will fly for 12 days, during which Shenzhou will shut down all its equipment and be completely unplugged.

Whiling pitying the short romantic journey, Nanfang Daily wrote: "After the docking, the two orbiters will form a little family. Tiangong-1 will be the backbone of the new family and it has the final say."

Such romanticism is not without its roots in China. "When talking about a rendezvous in space, Chinese people will immediately think of the story of the cowherd and the weaver girl," mythology and folklore expert An Deming told Xinhua.

Punished by the Goddess of Heaven, the couple could only meet in the sky once a year, via a bridge formed by magpies, according to Chinese folklore. Their story gives rise to the Qixi Festival, which is sometimes called Chinese Valentine's Day.

"Technological development often draws heavily upon a nation's historical and cultural heritage, and the two supplement each other in the modern world," said An, a researcher with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

Source: Xinhua News Agency


Related Links
Xinhua Special Report: China Launches Shenzhou-8 Spacecraft
The Chinese Space Program - News, Policy and Technology
China News from

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Rendezvous for Shenzhou
Sydney, Australia (SPX) Nov 03, 2011
The successful docking of the unmanned Shenzhou 8 spacecraft with China's Tiangong 1 space laboratory is the end of a long saga. The road to a successful rendezvous in space has been tricky for China, and this docking is long overdue. China has been confronted by technical difficulties with its docking systems and also with the Tiangong laboratory itself, which pushed this mission back sev ... read more

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