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China marks first manned space docking

06-25-2012 09:15 BJT Special Report:Shenzhou 9 's Docking Mission with Tiangong 1 |

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China achieved another milestone in its space program as the Shenzhou-9 spacecraft successfully completed its second docking with the Tiangong-1 space lab module by hand. This was China’s first ever manned manual space docking.

Ten meters, five meters, three.

It was a moment astronaut Liu Wang had practiced for, more than 1.500 times. And he knew he could do it.

Photo taken on June 24, 2012 shows the screen at the Beijing Aerospace Control Center
showing Shenzhou-9 manned spacecraft parting from the orbiting Tiangong-1 space lab to
prepare for the country's first manual space docking. The spacecraft and the space lab
were joined together by an automated docking on June 18. (Xinhua/Zha Chunming)

Liu said, "I’m 100% sure of a successfully operation. Because I can’t fail."

Dubbed the "space needle threading" mission, the astronauts had to carefully adjust the craft’s trajectory with very little margin for error.

It all culminated in the historic moment.

Shenzhou-9’s docking ring makes contact with the Tiangong-1 and a tight seal is formed as the connection between the craft is secured.

It was even more accurate than the first automated docking of Shenzhou-9 and Tiangong-1.

The State Council Information office then announced the success of the mission.

Wu Ping, spokeswoman for State Council Information Office said, "I can announce that the first Chinese manned docking of the Shenzhou-9 spacecraft and the Tiangong-1 space lab module has been successfully completed."

A big success, but it’s not over yet.

After the docking, the astronauts entered Tiangong-1 for another four days of experiments.

Following this, they’ll return to Shenzhou-9’s re-entry module, to prepare for the journey back to earth.


Editor:Zhang Rui |Source: CNTV.CN

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