It may come as a surprise to you ,but the ISS-although it is the biggest thing man has ever put into orbit- is not the only orbiting space station up there. The Chinese has had an unmanned module up there for months and now they plan on a manned flight to orbit and dock with it.
The Shenzhou 9 spacecraft will dock with the Tiangong 1 orbital module “sometime in mid-June,” according to Xinhua, China’s official news agency, quoting an unidentified spokesman for the country’s space program. The government did not say how long the mission will last.
On Saturday the spacecraft and its carrier rocket were moved to the launch platform at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, a rocket-launching complex in the Gobi Desert in northwest China. In the coming days, tests will be performed on the selected astronauts, the spacecraft, carrier rocket and ground systems, according to Xinhua, citing the spokesman for the space agency.
Upon arrival at the module one crew member will remain aboard the Shenzhou 9 as a precautionary measure while the others enter the orbital module.
Niu Hongguang, deputy commander-in-chief of the country’s manned space program, said the three-person crew may include female astronauts, Xinhua reported, but the decision will be made “on the very last condition.”
If you haven't heard of China's space program maybe it is because China couldn't care less what the rest of the world thinks and doesn't broadcast it's achievements around the world.
The Chinese government has relied on its own aerospace engineers and spent billions of dollars in recent years to build its space program. In 2003 the country carried out its first successful human spaceflight, and in 2008 Chinese astronauts took their first spacewalk.
China completed its first space docking last November when the Shenzhou 8 capsule coupled with the Tiangong 1 orbital module by remote control, an event that was broadcast live on Chinese national television and observed by Prime Minister Wen Jiabao from the control center in Beijing.
Chinese orbital rendezvous