Chinese spacecraft docks with orbiting module

Jun 24, 2012
In this image made off the screen at the Beijing Aerospace Control Center in Beijing and released by China's Xinhua News Agency, Shenzhou-9 spacecraft and Tiangong-1 lab module, partly seen on left, are conjoined again Sunday, June 24, 2012. Three Chinese astronauts Sunday successfully completed a manual docking between of the spacecraft and the orbiting module, the first such attempt in China's history of space exploration. (AP Photo/Beijing Aerospace Control Center via Xinhua) NO SALES

(AP) — A Chinese spacecraft carrying three astronauts carried out a manual docking with an orbiting module on Sunday, a first for the country as it strives to match American and Russian exploits in space.

The Shenzhou 9 capsule completed the maneuver with the Tiangong 1 module shortly before 1 p.m. (0500 GMT). The docking was shown live on national television. It follows a docking last week that was carried out by remote control from a ground base in China.

The Chinese astronauts have been living and working in the module for the past week as part of preparations for manning a permanent space station. They returned to the Shenzhou 9 capsule early Sunday and disconnected in preparation for the manual re-connection.

In this image made off the screen at the Beijing Aerospace Control Center in Beijing and released by China's Xinhua News Agency, Shenzhou-9 manned spacecraft parts from the orbiting Tiangong-1 space lab, partly seen on left, to prepare for the country's first manual space docking Sunday, June 24, 2012. The Chinese spacecraft and the space lab were joined together by an automated docking on June 18. (AP Photo/Beijing Aerospace Control Center via Xinhua) NO SALES

The crew includes 33-year-old Liu Yang, an air force pilot and China's first female space traveler.

Liu is joined by mission commander and veteran astronaut Jing Haipeng, 45, and crew mate Liu Wang, 43.

Their mission, which is expected to last at least 10 days, is China's fourth manned mission. Shenzhou 9 launched June 16 from the Jiuquan center on the edge of the Gobi desert in northern China.

China is hoping to join the United States and Russia as the only countries to send independently maintained space stations into orbit. It is already one of just three nations to have launched manned spacecraft on their own.

Another manned mission to the module is planned later this year. Possible future missions could include sending a man to the moon.

The Tiangong 1, which was launched last year, is due to be replaced by a permanent space station around 2020. That station is to weigh about 60 tons, slightly smaller than NASA's Skylab of the 1970s and about one-sixth the size of the 16-nation International .

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jerryd
1 / 5 (4) Jun 24, 2012

congrates, it only took them 50 yrs to match us!! We have small 200 person companies that can do what it takes their whole country to do.
Terriva
3 / 5 (2) Jun 24, 2012
it only took them 50 yrs to match us
..but "they" repeated the whole route ten times faster and cheaper than "we"...
Terriva
3 / 5 (4) Jun 24, 2012
The only way how to maintain the superiority in cosmic research is to consequential exploitation of new technologies, findings and energy sources. NASA cold fusion slides (1, 2, 3)
Vendicar_Decarian
5 / 5 (3) Jun 24, 2012
Ya, but for the first 40 years they weren't trying.

"congrates, it only took them 50 yrs to match us!!" - Jerryd

China now has the capacity to build it's own space station.

America now can't even put a man into orbit.

The world is laughing.
Husky
5 / 5 (2) Jun 25, 2012
50 years indeed, "we" could have been on mars by now, i say job well done.
lbuz
5 / 5 (2) Jun 26, 2012
If 'we' are human and so presumably Sapiens as well, then 'we' should be proud of 'us' for increasing 'our' capacities in space. Sheesh with the Jingoism!
ziphead
1 / 5 (1) Jun 26, 2012
If 'we' are human and so presumably Sapiens as well, then 'we' should be proud of 'us' for increasing 'our' capacities in space. Sheesh with the Jingoism!


Let's all hope Chinees leaders see it the same way.
PhotonX
5 / 5 (1) Jun 27, 2012
We have small 200 person companies that can do what it takes their whole country to do.
Absurd bigoted stupidity; you should be ashamed. ALL of China isn't doing this, are they? Or has Apple moved their Foxconn manufacturing back to the U.S. because all of China is working on space missions?
.
The U.S. landed on the Moon a bit over three years after our first successful space dock (Gemini 8). This 3-man flight makes me wonder if the Chinese may have a lander they plan on testing anytime soon. The 2025-2030 projected dates seem absurdly long, given that they are planning an unmanned lunar rover mission soon, and are flying 3-man manned craft now.

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