Shenzhou 11 Successfully Docks with Tiangong 2 Space Lab [VIDEO]

By | Oct 18, 2016 07:13 PM EDT
China Launches Shenzhou X

The Long March-2F rocket carrying China's manned Shenzhou-10 spacecraft blasts off from launch pad at Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center on June 11, 2013 in Jiuquan, Gansu Province of China. (Photo : Getty Images)

The manned Shenzhou-11 spacecraft successfully docked with the orbiting Tiangong-2 space lab at 3:31 a.m. Wednesday Beijing Time, the Beijing Aerospace Control Center (BACC) announced according to Xinhua News agency.

The Shenzhou-11 spacecraft started approaching Tiangong-2 automatically at 1:11 a.m. Wednesday and made contact with the spacelab at 3:24 a.m.

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The spacecraft took two days to transition into rendezvous operations with Tiangong-2. It safely arrived 52 kilometers behind the Tiangong-2 space lab after changing its orbit five times. The two then entered a state of automatic control, CCTV America noted.

Docking operations started when the two vehicles were 20 kilometers apart. Shenzhou-11 moved gradually moved closer at four mooring points, which are 5 kilometers, 400 meters, 140 meters and 30 meters.

The successful soft dock was marked at 19:24 UTC (3:24 a.m. Beijing time), according to NASA Spaceflight. Then it took another 15 minutes to provide a hard dock or seal between the two vehicles, allowing the control center to adjust the cabin environment for the two astronauts.

The two astronauts on board Jing Haipeng, 50, and Chen Dong, 37, monitored and regularly reported on its docking operation, with findings being relayed to the control center, Xinhua noted.

Once the two enters the space module, they will stay there for a month to conduct a series of research that aims to contribute to China's ambitions in space.

Shenzhou-11, which was launched Monday morning from northwest China's Gobi Desert, is the sixth manned spacecraft from China. It will undergo the first longest space mission in the country, with the two astronauts spending a total of 33 days in space.

Tiangong-2, on the other hand, was sent off to space on Sept. 15 and arrived at its defined orbit, about 393 kilometers above the Earth.

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