3 Nov 2011

Space vehicles joined by China

12:23 pm on 3 November 2011

China has joined two space vehicles in orbit for the first time.

Officials say the unmanned Shenzhou 8 craft, launched earlier this week, has made contact with the Tiangong-1 space lab.

The docking occurred over China itself on Tuesday (Thursday in China).

The craft will spend two weeks circling the globe together before Shenzhou 8 returns to Earth.

The BBC says that being able to dock two space vehicles together is a necessary capability for China if it wants to start building a space station towards the decade's end.