Accessibility links

Chinese Astronauts Complete First Manual Docking

The Shenzhou-9 spacecraft approaching the Tiangong-1 module for the automated docking on June 18.

A Chinese spacecraft carrying three astronauts has carried out a manual docking with an orbiting module, a first for the country's space program.

Chinese state media showed the Shenzhou-9 capsule completing the maneuver with the Tiangong-1 module on national television.

The maneuver follows a docking last week that was carried out by remote control from a ground base in China.

The docking was the main goal of China's current manned mission, which began over a week ago when the Shenzhou-9 spacecraft lifted off carrying three crew members, including the nation's first female astronaut.

Manual docking maneuvers require great accuracy and dexterity from astronauts but are considered necessary for any space program to master in case automatic procedures fail.

Based on reporting by AFP and AP