I mentioned last week that China was set to launch its Shenzhou-9 spacecraft in an attempt to dock with its orbiting space station module with astronauts on board for the first time. This mission also had China’s first female astronaut aboard. The automated docking procedure between the manned spacecraft and orbiting station module China previously placed in space was successful.
The successful docking is the third that China has completed and the first docking of a spacecraft with astronauts on board with the Tiangong-1 module. China’s state TV station said that the crew aboard the Shenzhou-9 vessel were expected to enter the space station module at 0930 GMT. The astronauts are expected to be in orbit for 13 days.
The main goal for the mission isn’t to conduct another automated docking procedure. Rather, the main goal is for the astronauts to perform China’s first manual space docking. The manual docking attempt is set for later in the mission. Reports previously noted that the Shenzhou-9 capsule would remain attached to the station module for six days before the manual docking was attempt.