Shenzhou-9 Set to Dock with Orbiting Space Station Today
After its launch last Saturday, the Shenzhou -9 spacecraft carrying China’s first female astronaut along with her two male companions made a planned change course yesterday while on their way to dock with Tiangong-1 space station. The course change is one of the five planned orbit changes.
The spacecraft is set to dock with Tiangong-1 today, then the astronauts can enter the module once docked and will start to conduct the experiments. The entire orbital transfer process will be closely monitored by the astronauts in their re-entry capsule. While the spacecraft was traveling around the earth, Jing Haipeng the mission commander opened the hatch between the re-entry module and the orbital module while the astronauts removed their white intravehicular pressurized suits to change into their blue intravehicular work suits.
Liu Yang the 33 year old air force pilot became China’s first female space traveler along with mission commander Jing Haipeng and Liu Wang will be spending 13 days in space in one of China’s longest manned space missions. Two of the astronauts will be living and working inside Tiangong-1 while their third member will be staying in the space capsule in case of emergency.
China has completed an automated docking with Tiangong-1 using the unmanned Shenzhou-8 in last year’s mission. A successful manual docking will demonstrate the advance in technology that china needs in their plans to build a space station by 2020.