1 / 17

China Prepares To Launch Shenzhou-8 Spacecraft

JIUQUAN, CHINA - OCTOBER 26: (CHINA OUT) An upgraded Long March 2F rocket carries the Shenzhou-8 spacecraft at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center on October 26, 2011 in Jiuquan, China. The Shenzhou-8 spacecraft is scheduled to launch in early November, on a space mission to dock with China's first unmanned space module Tiangong-1. (Photo by ChinaFotoPress/Getty Images)

China spacecraft returns to Earth

The unmanned Chinese spacecraft, Shenzhou VIII, returned to Earth successfully on Nov. 17 after more than two weeks in orbit, marking a pivotal moment for the rising power's plans to secure a long-term manned foothold in space.