Sunday, June 17, 2012

How to See China Spacecraft in Orbit

Ng Han Guan  /  AP
China's Long March 2F rocket launches from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center on Saturday, sending the country's first woman astronaut and two male crewmates into space aboard their Shenzhou 9 capsule.
updated 6/17/2012 11:12:27 AM ET
The launch of China's fourth human spaceflight this weekend kicked off a major docking test flight, and there's a chance you can see the two spaceships involved in the orbital rendezvous in tonight's night sky.
China's Shenzhou 9 space capsule launched into orbit Saturday (June 16) with a crew of three astronauts aboard, including China's first female spaceflyer Liu Yang. The crew's mission is to rendezvous with China's existing space laboratory module Tiangong 1, which has been circling Earth since its own launch last September.
The two spacecraft are expected to dock for the first time on Monday (June 18), which means that if you live in a part of the world that is along the Shenzhou 9 mission's flight path, tonight is your last chance (weather permitting) to see the space capsule and Tiangong 1 orbiting lab flying separately before they link up.
Here's how to find out if the Shenzhou 9 capsule and Tiangong 1 will be visible from your location:



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