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Shenzhou-10 docks with space module
June 13, 2013, 1:41 pm


The view outside the propelling module of the Shenzhou-10 manned spacecraft [Xinhua]

China’s Shenzhou-10 manned spacecraft successfully completed an automated docking procedure with the orbiting Tiangong-1 space module on Thursday, according to the Beijing Aerospace Control Centre.

The docking procedure was the fifth to take place between a Shenzhou-type spacecraft and the space module.

Previous dockings include two automated operations by the unmanned Shenzhou-8 in 2011 and both an automated and manual docking by the manned Shenzhou-9 last year.

The Shenzhou-10, launched on Tuesday afternoon from northwest China’s Gobi desert, and made contact with the space module at 1:11 p.m. on Thursday.

Three astronauts aboard the Shenzhou monitored and reported the docking operation to the control centre.

According to their mission schedule, the astronauts will enter the space module later and carry out scientific and technical experiments.

The Shenzhou-10 is China’s fifth manned spacecraft and it is the first application-orientated flight under China’s space programme since the country introduced its manned space programme in 1992.

The astronauts are scheduled to conduct a manual docking with the space module during their 15-day journey in space, as well as give a lecture to Earth-bound students.

China is the third country after the United States and Russia to acquire the technologies and skills necessary for space rendezvous and docking procedures, as well as supply manpower and material for an orbiting module via different docking methods.

The Tiangong-1 space lab has been in orbit for about 620 days and will remain in service for another three months.

The module is considered the first step in building a permanent space station, which the country aims to do by 2020.


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