Shenzhou-9 Completes Manual Docking With Tiangong-1 Space Station
By Srinivas Laxman | Top News
June 24, 2012
China’s Shenzhou-9 successfully demonstrated today the capability for manual docking with the Tiangong-1 space laboratory — a know how till now only shared by the US and Russia.
AsianScientist (Jun. 24, 2012) – On Sunday at 12:42 p.m. (Beijing time), China once again demonstrated its capability in the field of space technology with the successful manual docking of the Shenzhou-9 spacecraft with the Tiangong-1 space laboratory — a know how till now only shared by the US and Russia.
Shenzhou-9 was launched on June 16 and it docked with Tiangong-1 on June 18. Contrary to earlier media reports, it was an automated docking procedure.
According to the official Xinhua news agency, the significance of the manual docking is that it will prove China’s know how of the highly complicated rendezvous and docking technology. The maneuver calls for the taikonauts to link up Tiangong-1 and Shenzhou 9, both flying at a velocity of 7.8 kilometers per second.
Manual docking means that the taikonauts will have to have precise judgment on the relative distance between Shenzhou-9 and Tiangong-1 which according to Xinhua “is a challenge to their capability of co-ordination, accuracy and psychological stability.”
The docking exercise was initiated on Sunday with the three taikonauts, Liu Wang, Jing Haipeng, and Liu Yang returning to Shenzhou-9. Thereafter, Liu Wang assisted by Jing Haipeng and Liu Yang controlled Shenzhou-9 to dock with the space station.
Xinhua reports that about 90 minutes prior to the docking, Shenzhou-9 detached itself from Tiangong-1 to the berth point 400 meters away from the space lab.
To leave room for adjustment, engineers set up four berth points for the spaceship on the same orbit – 5 kilometers, 400 meters, 140 meters, and 30 meters away from Tiangong-1.
Once the manual docking was completed, the three taikonauts returned to Tiangong-1 to continue with their science experiments.
Copyright: Asian Scientist Magazine.
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