Three Chinese astronauts on Monday entered an orbiting module for the first time, a key step towards the nation’s first space station, in a move broadcast live on China’s state television network.
The astronauts — two men and China’s first woman to go to space — went into the Tiangong-1 module after it came together with the Shenzhou-9 spacecraft, which took off Saturday.They entered the capsule a little under three hours after it joined together with their spacecraft in the third automatic docking China has ever performed and the first for a manned mission.
The astronauts, who were shown waving to a camera inside the capsule, will attempt to complete the highly technical docking procedure manually later in their 13-day mission, which has been heavily trailed in China’s state-run media.China aims to complete construction of a space station by 2020, a goal that requires it to perfect docking technology — a delicate manoeuvre that the Russians and Americans successfully completed in the 1960s.
The technique is hard to master because the two vessels, placed in the same orbit and revolving around the Earth at thousands of kilometres per hour, must come together very gently to avoid destroying each other.Reports have said the Shenzhou-9 will remain attached to the space capsule for six days before separating in preparation for the manual docking. – Khaleejnews