China will launch its first manned space lab this month, state media reported on Thursday, heralding another first in China's space program.
The Global Times newspaper said the Tiangong-I (the "Heavenly Palace") will be launched between Sept. 27-30, with two spaceships scheduled to go on docking missions with the lab next year. China has kicked its space exploration program into high gear in recent years, and officials said this station will be used for medical and scientific research. Outside analysts said the space lab will also be a component of China's military expansion, though details of the station's mission are unclear. The Tiangong's original launch date was apparently delayed from last month by a technical snag.