Astronauts re-enter space module after docking
Updated: 2013-06-23 13:31
BEIJING - Three astronauts aboard the Shenzhou-10 spacecraft re-entered the orbiting Tiangong-1 space module after successfully completing a manual docking procedure on Sunday, according to the Beijing Aerospace Control Center.
Launched on June 11 from northwest China's Gobi Desert, the Shenzhou-10 manned spacecraft completed a manual docking procedure with the Tiangong-1 at 10:07 a.m. Sunday. The three astronauts entered the module at 1:09 p.m. They will carry out scientific experiments aboard the module.
On June 13, the Shenzhou-10 successfully completed an automated docking procedure with the Tiangong-1, with three astronauts aboard the Shenzhou-10 entering the space module.
At 8:26 a.m. Sunday, the spacecraft was manually separated from the Tiangong-1 module.
After the Beijing Aerospace Control Center remotely examined the spacecraft and the module, the Shenzhou-10 approached the module, with astronaut Nie Haisheng piloting the spacecraft and the other two crew members, Zhang Xiaoguang and Wang Yaping, monitoring instruments and making sure the craft was on target.
At 10:00 a.m. the spacecraft made contact with the Tiangong-1 and at 10:07, the two connected.
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 program 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.
Previous docking procedures conducted between Shenzhou-type spacecraft and the space module include two automated dockings 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.