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Shenzhou 9's three-person crew, including China's first female astronaut  (Source: planetary.org)
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.

Source: Space.com



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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
quote:
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".
FTFY


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
quote:
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
quote:
.....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.


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