Chinese Spacecraft Docks With Orbiting Module
A Chinese spacecraft carrying three astronauts docked manually with an orbiting module on Sunday, a first for the country as it strives to match American and Russian exploits in space.
The Shenzhou 9 capsule’s maneuver with the Tiangong 1 module was shown live on national television. It follows a docking last week that was carried out by remote control from a ground base in China.
The Chinese astronauts have been living and working in the module for the past week as part of preparations for manning a permanent space station. They returned to the Shenzhou 9 capsule early Sunday and disconnected in preparation for the manual reconnection.
Wu Ping, spokeswoman for China’s manned space program, told reporters in Beijing that hand levers were used to control Shenzhou 9 and position it to dock with the orbiting module. The maneuver was “precise and perfect” and the three astronauts carried it out “calmly and skillfully,” Wu said.
“This success in manual docking represents a major breakthrough in our space rendezvous and docking technologies,” Wu said.