Results will help decide agendas for future projects The Shenzhou VII crew may have returned to Earth on Sunday, but the space mission continued last night: scientists started to move a small satellite closer to a module left behind in orbit. China Central Television reported that scientists at the Beijing Space Control Centre made their first satellite manoeuvre last night, with four or five adjustments due within a week. 'The satellite is a bit far from the orbit module right now, so we have to give the satellite a little push to force it to move closer to the module,' Li Gefei , a scientist with the ground control centre, told CCTV. The 40kg satellite has two cameras on board that are sending pictures of the orbit module back to Earth. The satellite and the orbit module were detached from the Shenzhou VII re-entry capsule and left to circle the planet after the crew's three astronauts finished their space tasks last weekend. Reports said both pieces of equipment would be abandoned after their batteries ran out. Besides sending back clear pictures of the orbit module, scientists said the experiment would offer technological references for building a space station in the future, but they did not elaborate. The attempt to bring the satellite and the module closer together appears to be a warm-up for a much more ambitious plan to connect space modules in orbit in about 2013. Space programme deputy head Zhang Jianqi said in another CCTV interview that China would send up an 8 tonne space lab, tentatively named Tiangong No1, in 2010 or 2011, before Shenzhou VIII, IX and X were launched in the next two years to dock with the space lab. Tiangong literally means 'heavenly palace' and is well known in Chinese literature as the home of a number of legendary characters. Mr Zhang said the Shenzhou VIII mission would have significant implications for subsequent space trips because the success or failure of the test would decide whether astronauts would be sent to outer space on the next three Shenzhou missions. 'If the docking test of Shenzhou VIII is carried out smoothly, it's possible we will send astronauts to test the technology' in the next two missions, Mr Zhang said. Another senior space engineer, Su Shuangning , said docking could prove to be a difficult task. 'In my opinion, it's like putting a needle up there in outer space, and then you try to put a thread through the needle from several hundred kilometres below. It's a hard task to do even on the ground,' Mr Su said. From the lessons learned there, China will build a space station in outer space, allowing astronauts to live there for longer periods. Space engineering expert Wang Yongzhi said government blueprints for the space station indicated China would try to send astronauts to the moon. He said scientists were evaluating the feasibility of a manned lunar mission and would seek the central leadership's approval for the project when the timing was right.