The first manned space docking of China succeeded Monday afternoon with the coupling of the Shenzhou-9 spacecraft and Tiangong-1 lab module, the Beijing Aerospace Control Center said.
The procedure began with the Shenzhou-9, with three astronauts aboard, moving to a location 52 km away from the Tiangong-1 at noon Monday. The spacecraft then slowly drifted toward the Tiangong-1 before making contact with the module at 2:07 p.m.
The docking was completed in less than eight minutes. The rigidly connected Shenzhou-9 and Tiangong-1 orbited the Earth at 7.8 km per second.
During the process of automated docking, the astronauts namely Jing Haipeng, Liu Wang and Liu Yang were calm and in good condition, reporting the status of Shenzhou-9 to the ground frequently, according to the Beijing Aerospace Control Center.
They will enter the Tiangong-1 lab module later in the day and use it to conduct scientific experiments and technical tests.
China’s first successful unmanned space docking was completed last year with the docking of the Shenzhou-8 spacecraft and the Tiangong-1.