Science Art: Tiangong 1, by China Manned Space Engineering, 2011

In case you hadn’t heard, China is building its own space station. Not planning to build. Not any more. Building.

The Tiangong 1 mission launched on Thursday from Jiuqian Satellite Launch Center (to the strains of “America the Beautiful”, peculiarly enough).

They’ve got photos of the rocket, too.

Sometime between now and mid-November, they’ll be launching another spacecraft. Once the two rendezvous in orbit, the ISS won’t be alone any more. The Tiangong will remain empty – except for some European biological samples – until the middle of next year, when Chinese astronauts will move in to do some research.