Three Chinese astronauts,including a woman,on the country’s fifth and longest manned space mission today succeeded in manually docking their spacecraft with the orbiting experimental space lab.
The spacecraft ‘Shenzhou-10’ (Divine Craft) successfully completed a manual docking procedure with the orbiting Tiangong-1 space module,the Beijing Aerospace Control Centre announced.
Earlier the spacecraft,which was launched on June 11,was manually separated from the Tiangong-1 module.
Chinese astronauts are currently under training to master both the automatic and manual docking technology which is part of efforts to build a China’s first space station by 2020.
The spacecraft piloted by Nie Haisheng and assisted by Zhang Xiaoguang and Wang Yaping,the lone woman astronaut,successfully completed an automated docking procedure with the Tiangong-1 on June 13.
According to their mission schedule,the astronauts will enter the space module again and carry out scientific experiments.
The Shenzhou-10 is China’s fifth manned spacecraft.
Its current flight is China’s first application-orientated space flight since the country’s manned space programme started in 1992.
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,state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
Previous docking procedures conducted between Shenzhou-type spacecraft and the space module include two automated docking by the unmanned Shenzhou-8 in 2011 and both an automated and manual docking by the manned Shenzhou-9 in 2012.
The Tiangong-1 space lab has been in orbit for more than 600 days.
It 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.