All Things Nuclear, the blog of the Global Security Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists, reports that although Beijing has yet to make it official, there are “good signs” that China plans to launch its Tiangong 1 experimental space laboratory before the end of the month.

The 8-ton Tiangong 1 is designed to be a test bed for the technologies China will need to move forward with its space station program. It will be launched from the Jiuquan spaceport in Gansu Province aboard a modified Long March 2F.

China plans to launch three missions to Tiangong 1 over the next two years. Shenzhou 8 will be an unmanned mission whose primary purpose is to demonstrate that it can dock with the space lab. Shenzhou 9 may or may not carry humans, depending on the performance of the docking technology demonstrated during the first mission. Shenzhou 10 will take astronauts to Tiangong 1, where they will spend an as yet undetermined length of time living and working in the space lab.