China’s Shenzhou 11 spacecraft docks with Tiangong 2 space station

China’s Shenzhou 11 spacecraft docks with Tiangong 2 space station

China’s Shenzhou-11 spacecraft, which lifted off from the Gobi Desert-based Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center on Monday, successfully docked with the country’s Tiangong 2 space station at 19:24 GMT on Tuesday.

Xinhua, the official news agency of China, announced that the manned spacecraft successfully docked with Tiangong 2, and two astronauts have entered the space station.

The two astronauts on the mission are Jing Haipeng and Chen Dong. Heipeng is mission commander and Dong is a flight engineer. The spacecraft was lifted by the Long March 2F rocket.

Haipeng and Dong will spend around a month in space conducting various experiments. If it goes as planned, it will be the lengthiest space mission by Chinese astronauts.

State television broadcasted live video of the docking and the astronauts’ entry into the space lab through a narrow 1 meter-long, 80cm-wide passageway. The docking occurred 393 kilometers above Earth’s surface and the remotely controlled procedure lasted about two hours, according to state media.

Following its exclusion from the International Space Station (ISS), China announced plans to create its own space station by 2022. It is now making efforts to expand Tiangong 2 by sending up additional modules. It has plans to launch at least twenty space missions by the end of 2016, with Shenzhou-11 being its sixth mission.


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