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Shenzhou 9's three-person crew, including China's first female astronaut  (Source:
The Shenzhou 9 made its way into space on a Chinese Long March 2F rocket on Saturday, June 16

China successfully completed its first manned docking in space today using the Shenzhou 9 spacecraft and the Tiangong 1 space module.

"We are one step closer to our destination of constructing a future space station," said an official with China's space program. "This is the first successful crew transportation mission for China."

The Shenzhou 9 made its way into space on a Chinese Long March 2F rocket on Saturday, June 16. It launched from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the Gansu province in northern China.

The Shenzhou 9 successfully docked at the Tiangong 1 space module in automatic mode today, marking the first manned docking for China. China is the third country (after the United States and Russia) to make such a quest.

But the docking isn't the only historic marker for China. The three-person crew aboard the Shenzhou 9 consisted of China's first female astronaut, Liu Yang. The other two astronauts were Jing Haipeng and Liu Wang.

"I feel honored to fly into space on behalf of hundreds of millions of Chinese females," said Liu.

The Shenzhou 9 will remain docked at the Tiangong 1 until later this week, and then re-dock for another test in manual mode. The spacecraft is expected to be in orbit for 13 days.

The Tiangong 1 was launched into space in September 2011, and the unmanned Shenzhou 8 spacecraft linked up to it in November. Today's manned docking represented a whole new first for the country.

China described its five-year space plans in a report released by the government last December. According to the blueprint, the country wants to construct space stations, ship freighters, space laboratories and a manned spaceship through the end of 2016.
China also said it plans to use probes to explore the moon's surface as well as asteroids, planets and the sun, and it wants to improve launch vehicles, meteorological
satellites, communications and broadcasting to form a global satellite navigation system.


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It's about time.
By Oakley516 on 6/19/2012 12:45:40 AM , Rating: 3
China has caught up to the US Gemini program.

Only 50 years more of development to go.

RE: It's about time.
By Jedi2155 on 6/19/2012 1:03:07 AM , Rating: 2
Except they want to do it in 5. Helps when you've already seen how everyone else do things.

RE: It's about time.
By Samus on 6/19/2012 1:44:45 AM , Rating: 2
They also have virtually unlimited resources, cheap labor, educated engineers, and ever-increasing quality control. I know the last monolithic achievement in China was a high speed rail that crashed 63 days into operation (Japan's hasn't crashed since its maiden voyage decades ago) but it DID run for 63 days, and the failure was a bridge, not the train itself.

They are catching up fast. Many Chinese sectors of engineering and production are now world-class.

However, as I've commented on before, China can be very wreckless in space travel, more so than the Soviets used to be. They product a lot of 'space junk' and have a reputation for satellite launch failures.

RE: It's about time.
By JoeOnRoute66 on 6/19/2012 8:24:46 AM , Rating: 1
And the US is financing the operation.

RE: It's about time.
By amanojaku on 6/19/2012 8:31:28 AM , Rating: 2
The Chinese government also withholds its resources from its citizens, permits slave labor, steals from companies abroad, and views quality control as "try, try again".

RE: It's about time.
By bobsmith1492 on 6/19/2012 9:15:00 AM , Rating: 3
Quality control?? In China??

Pardon me while I burst out laughing.

Chinese quality control is whatever I can get away with and still make money.

RE: It's about time.
By elleehswon on 6/19/2012 10:48:04 AM , Rating: 3
correct, and to add to that, quality control scales with complaints against quality control.

RE: It's about time.
By kattanna on 6/19/2012 11:35:37 AM , Rating: 3
Chinese quality control is whatever I can get away with and still make money.

so your saying, once again they have copied the US ?


RE: It's about time.
By bobsmith1492 on 6/19/2012 11:48:13 AM , Rating: 2
Except they forgot that pesky "it has to still work and not kill people" clause.

RE: It's about time.
By ShieTar on 6/19/2012 3:41:08 AM , Rating: 1
And what exactly are we doing today that is 50 years more advanced than flying up and docking? Space transportation business is extremely conservative, we rely on the technology that is proven to keep the cosmonauts alive rather than try a lot of new technology that seems better in some aspects.

Personally I just hope NASA will overcome its fear of China soon and allow the chinese programm to contribute to the ISS (or any international followup). Manned space programs are extremely expensive, and duplicating them nation by nation is just a waste of time and money that could be better spend in the technological advancement of mankind as a whole.

RE: It's about time.
By JediJeb on 6/20/2012 5:44:01 PM , Rating: 2
Sometimes I wonder about that. It would make sense to think that everyone working together as a group would be more efficient, yet we usually see much faster gains when smaller groups are competing against each other.

Competition seems to bring out a raw ingenuity that working together in a co-op doesn't. Many times, when the responsibility can be spread out among many members we become lax in our achievements or we fall into the "pass it through committee" mind set where it takes forever for the group to come to a consensus as to how to proceed. The Chinese are a very competitive group, while here in the US we are teaching our children not to worry about competition because "everybody wins!"

I just wish this story would show up as headline news on all the outlets instead of just on tech sites such as this. While it is most appreciated by those of us who follow tech advancements, it will take the kick in the pants to the average person to finally get us going again in fields such as space exploration. When Sputnik launched it was on every TV and in every newspaper and on radio that the Russians had done it. Yet not a single person I work with even knew the Chinese had a space program and they are really shocked when I mention that India has one too.

RE: It's about time.
By Ammohunt on 6/25/2012 2:27:27 PM , Rating: 2
.....while here in the US we are teaching our children not to worry about competition because "everybody wins!"

Good job on this post! your trophy is in the mail!

RE: It's about time.
By TSS on 6/19/2012 7:05:27 AM , Rating: 1
Well, that's one way to look at it.

The other way would be they're 4-8 years away if they so choose to go to a place NASA could go to 50 years ago... but can't today (no political will/funding/suitable vehicles).

So if they make it to the moon (which is in their plans), would that mean they're 100 years ahead? yknow, cause they've advanced 50 years to be able to do everything the US is technically capable of today spacewise, while the US has regressed to the state of not being able to do anything post-gemini (as you currently have no way of getting crew into space, and docking with the ISS. both space-x and NASA solutions will still take a couple of years).

Of course you could just recognise them as equals....

RE: It's about time.
By geddarkstorm on 6/19/2012 12:40:33 PM , Rating: 1
At this rate, China is looking to be the best hope to get humanity into space. What's up with that?

Meanwhile, all the other nations of the world are jumping into the insanity pool at Rio+20, which is literally stating they want to limit economic growth of the planet and impoverish everyone in the name of sustainability. Go to space, start mining resources from there, and problem solved, without reducing us all to 1984.

So in this, I have to root China on. Now if only they would start to give the majority of their citizens a higher quality, freer life, and they really would become the next great power... As a US citizen, that's really depressing to say.

RE: It's about time.
By johnsmith9875 on 6/21/2012 5:44:02 PM , Rating: 2
3 astronauts means they reached Apollo stage. They launched the equivalent of SKYLAB last year and are now occupying it.

Gemini was a rudimentary mission to double up the mercury program and stick astronauts on nuclear missile boosters (atlas, titan).

China's Long March is a dedicated rocket for lofting big satellites, humans and space station sections.

Riddle me this, Batman....
By inperfectdarkness on 6/19/2012 9:06:36 AM , Rating: 1
Where did the Chinese find a female to be a taikonaut...let alone an "educated" one?

RE: Riddle me this, Batman....
By Motoman on 6/19/2012 9:11:33 AM , Rating: 2
The People's Republic is not the Taliban. They educate everyone equally.

RE: Riddle me this, Batman....
By Reclaimer77 on 6/19/2012 1:39:07 PM , Rating: 1
It takes more than "education" to become an astronaut. You need equal opportunity. This is nothing but a PR stunt because women in China are considered anything but equals.

RE: Riddle me this, Batman....
By Amiga500 on 6/19/2012 6:12:56 PM , Rating: 2
In terms of education, that is absolute tripe reclaimer.

I assume you've never worked with any Chinese engineers then? There is a good chance they'd be female... certainly a much higher chance than in any western country.

RE: Riddle me this, Batman....
By Reclaimer77 on 6/19/2012 8:20:07 PM , Rating: 2
Right, you can be an engineer. Just don't have more than two kids or we'll force an abortion on you. China is just awesome when it comes to women's rights huh?

RE: Riddle me this, Batman....
By Amiga500 on 6/20/2012 5:33:58 AM , Rating: 2
I think that affects the 2nd child (a helluva lot more than anyone else!), as well as the father and of course the mother.

I wouldn't even come close to declaring that solely a women's rights issue!

RE: Riddle me this, Batman....
By lagomorpha on 6/20/2012 8:56:32 AM , Rating: 2
The fewer children women have, the more educated they have an opportunity to become. I'd call a one child policy a lot less oppressive to women than one that denies them contraception and tells them they have no choice but to become brood mares.

That aside, would you really want to see a China with a population that doubles every 50 years or so?

RE: Riddle me this, Batman....
By inperfectdarkness on 6/20/2012 2:17:06 AM , Rating: 2
Agreed. Education isn't really the's finding a female talent-pool that's the issue. My comment was directed at the obviously already small percentage of women who desire (and can effectively perform in) the field of space flight. China's draconian policies towards births, coupled with their woefully rigid patriarchial system, effectively relegates women to scarcely better off than living under the Taliban--ironically enough.

Would you rather be executed at birth (or aborted in vitro), or be persecuted your entire life? Yes...China completely deserves to be on the UN human rights committee.

RE: Riddle me this, Batman....
By lagomorpha on 6/20/2012 9:01:39 AM , Rating: 3
Yes...China completely deserves to be on the UN human rights committee.

Well look at the company they're in on that committee:

Egypt (current leader in the polls for President wants to deport all non-Muslims)
South Africa
Ireland (divorce was illegal until 1995)

China has a LOT of money
By johnsmith9875 on 6/21/2012 5:42:08 PM , Rating: 2
They're building entire multibillion dollar ghost cities in the Mongolian deserts because they don't know what to do with the cash.

Blowing it on the space program is a cheap way to get some TV time and national pride going.

While we were busy giving tax breaks to billionaires and deregulating Wall Street, the chinese quietly put a space station up last year and now is sending astronauts.

Meanwhile we don't even have a rocket to send people. Our obsession with privatization gave us the absolutely dumb concept of the SSTO, Orion gave us yet another dangerous solid fuel rocket with all the flaws of the space shuttle, and the shuttle gave us horribly expensive flights and 14 dead astronauts.

RE: China has a LOT of money
By praxis1 on 6/23/2012 7:05:00 AM , Rating: 2
David Graeber hits the nail on the head in the baffler.

A secret question hovers over us, a sense of disappointment, a broken promise we were given as children about what our adult world was supposed to be like. I am referring not to the standard false promises that children are always given (about how the world is fair, or how those who work hard shall be rewarded), but to a particular generational promise—given to those who were children in the fifties, sixties, seventies, or eighties—one that was never quite articulated as a promise but rather as a set of assumptions about what our adult world would be like. And since it was never quite promised, now that it has failed to come true, we’re left confused: indignant, but at the same time, embarrassed at our own indignation, ashamed we were ever so silly to believe our elders to begin with. Where, in short, are the flying cars? Where are the force fields, tractor beams, teleportation pods, antigravity sleds, tricorders, immortality drugs, colonies on Mars, and all the other technological wonders any child growing up in the mid-to-late twentieth century assumed would exist by now? Even those inventions that seemed ready to emerge—like cloning or cryogenics—ended up betraying their lofty promises. What happened to them? ...


In the natural sciences, to the tyranny of managerialism we can add the privatization of research results. As the British economist David Harvie has reminded us, “open source” research is not new. Scholarly research has always been open source, in the sense that scholars share materials and results. There is competition, certainly, but it is “convivial.” This is no longer true of scientists working in the corporate sector, where findings are jealously guarded, but the spread of the corporate ethos within the academy and research institutes themselves has caused even publicly funded scholars to treat their findings as personal property. Academic publishers ensure that findings that are published are increasingly difficult to access, further enclosing the intellectual commons. As a result, convivial, open-source competition turns into something much more like classic market competition. There are many forms of privatization, up to and including the simple buying up and suppression of inconvenient discoveries by large corporations fearful of their economic effects.

USA, cocky and broke.
By anandtech02148 on 6/19/2012 7:06:12 PM , Rating: 2
China space programs is paid for by the interests they earned from america's trillion dollar debt.
NASA gets its feeding tube from 50yrs of US governments tax collections. There's a big difference there, every day towns and cities of the USA increase it's tentacles of tax collection. CHINA MADE IT'S MONEY BY SELLING STUFF.
All I see in these american comments are spoiled rotten americans who whines & forget their tax collection schemes after 300yrs is going for broke.

By Motoman on 6/20/2012 12:14:03 PM , Rating: 2
...who's going to be "docking" with the space?

Pics or it didn't happen.

Which one...
By Totally on 6/25/2012 8:15:20 PM , Rating: 2
is the female?

Fail a million times, succeed once
By nanlee on 7/13/2012 1:59:11 PM , Rating: 2
the American motto.

"Google fired a shot heard 'round the world, and now a second American company has answered the call to defend the rights of the Chinese people." -- Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-N.J.)

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