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China opens first 'space post office'

Soon you can get a real postcard from new zip code 901001

In this era of Facebook, e-mail, Twitter and other social media, getting a postcard from someone's travels has a certain appeal.

And China's mail service looks to be taking that tourist postcard to a whole new level.

To celebrate Thursday's docking of the Shenzhou-8 unmanned spacecraft with space lab module Tiangong-1, China's post authority has opened a new branch office outside the country and out of this world � 343 kilometers above the Earth, to be exact.

Opening for business on the same day, the China Post Space Office has two venues � one on-the-ground base inside the Beijing Aerospace Command and Control Center (BACCC) and one 'virtual office' aboard the Shenzhou-8 spacecraft.

There is also a new designated post code -- 901001.

China Post Group's general manager Li Guohua said the post office will be able to deliver mail from the public to astronauts in future.

The office will also issue postal souvenirs, such as stamps and envelopes that depict China's major space program events.

According to staff at the BACCC post office (which houses the worldly version of the space post office) the new branch handles normal postal as well as courier services.

All mail going through the BACCC office will be chopped with a special postmark showing the date in numerals, and "Beijing" and "Space" in simplified Chinese. Philatelic fans can also send a letter to themselves to obtain the postmark by providing an extra envelope with sufficient return stamps.

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