Early Thursday morning, the Chinese unmanned space capsule Shenzhou-8 returned to Earth after a 17 day mission to the Tiangong 1 space station module. Shenzhou 8 performed two autonomous docking procedures before returning to Earth. Shenzhou 8 was launched on 31 October from the Jiuquan space base on a Long March 2F booster. Shenzhou 8 docked twice with Tiangong, first at night on 2 November, then a daylight docking on 14 November.
Tiangong is a prototype space station module, which will remain in orbit and receive two more Shenzhou missions in 2012. A functional space station is envisioned for 2020.