AsianScientist (Jun. 17, 2013) – China’s Shenzhou-10 manned spacecraft successfully completed an automated docking procedure with the Tiangong-1 space lab on Thursday, reports the state-run Xinhua news agency.
Previous dockings with the Tiangong station include a manual docking by the manned Shenzhou-9 in 2012, making it the third country besides the United States and Russia to possess space rendezvous and manual docking technology.
On board Shenzhou-10 is China’s second woman taikonaut, the 33-year-old Ms. Wang Yaping. The Shenzhou-9 docking was initiated with China’s first woman taikonaut (Chinese term for astronaut), Liu Yang, who was accompanied by mission commander Jing Haipeng, 46, and flight engineer Liu Wang, 42.
According to Beijing Aerospace Control Center, the Shenzhou-10 was launched Tuesday afternoon from northwest China’s Gobi desert and made contact with the space module at 1:11 p.m..
The Shenzhou-10 is China’s fifth manned spacecraft under China’s space program. The astronauts aboard the Shenzhou-10 are scheduled to conduct a manual docking with the space module during their 15-day journey in space.
Tiangong-1, or Heavenly Palace, is China’s first spacecraft designed for orbital docking tests and space research. It is a test mission and it is expected to remain in orbit for another three months.
It will be succeeded by Tiangong-2 in 2015 as a precursor to the building of a space station in 2020, said a key official with the manned space program.
“After that, there will be no more manned dockings for the Tiangong-1, but it will continue to orbit Earth,” said Zhou Jianping, chief designer of the manned space program, to China Daily. “It is likely that the two Tiangong vehicles will be in orbit at the same time.”
Copyright: Asian Scientist Magazine; Photo: Xinhua.
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