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The buzz out of Beijing is that China's Tiangong 1 space lab may fly sooner than expected, perhaps soaring into space by this month's end. That might be the case, according to China space watcher Gregory Kulacki, a senior analyst and China Project manager at the Union of Concerned Scientists. The Tiangong 1 module ("Heavenly Palace 1" in Chinese) is not China's actual space station — nor will it be a part of the planned Chinese space station, he said. Rather, the 8-ton experimental prototype is designed as a test bed for the technologies China will need for its future space station program, including docking technology. Over the next two years, China is projected to launch three missions to the Tiangong 1 space lab. The third — and possibly second — mission is expected to carry Chinese astronauts to live and work on the Earth-orbiting facility(...)