China launches second space station
China has launched its second experimental space laboratory, part of a broader plan to have a permanent manned space station in service around 2022.
The Tiangong 2 was carried into space atop a Long March 7 rocket on Thursday night from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center on the edge of the Gobi Desert in northern China.
Plans call for the launch next month of the Shenzhou 11 spaceship with two astronauts to dock with the station and remain on board for a month. The station, whose name means “Heavenly Palace,” is considered a stepping stone to a mission to Mars by the end of the decade.