China Launches Shenzhou-10 Crew to Tiangong-1 Space Station

China Launches Shenzhou-10 Crew to Tiangong-1 Space Station

China successfully launched the Shenzhou-10 spacecraft this morning Eastern Daylight Time (EDT), sending a three-person crew to its Tiangong-1 space station.

Launch from the Jiuquan Space Launch Center took place on time at 5:38 am EDT (5:38 pm Beijing time, 09:38 GMT). 

Launch of Shenzhou-10, June 11, 2013.   Photo credit:  Xinhua

The crew includes China’s second woman in space, Maj. Wang Yaping.   She was a transport aircraft pilot before joining the astronaut corps.   The Chinese are heralding her as China’s first “teacher in space,” comparing her to Christa McAuliffe and Barbara Morgan, because she will teach a physics class from orbit.  She is 33 and China also is trumpeting her as the first astronaut born “in the 1980s” (she was born in 1980).

The other two crew members are Maj. Gen. Nie Haisheng and Col. Zhang Xiaoguang.  Nie, a pilot, is making his second spaceflight.  He was a member of the Shenzhou-6 crew in 2005.  He is 48.    Zhang, 47 and also a pilot, was born in 1966.   All are members of the Communist Party of China and of the People’s Liberation Army.

Shenzhou-10 crew.  Photo credit:  Xinhua

The Shenzhou-10 mission is scheduled for a total of 15 days.  Bob Christy at calculates that docking with the Tiangong-1 space station will take place on June 13 at 05:10 GMT (1:10 am EDT).   Part of the mission is to test manual docking procedures where the crew will undock and redock with the space station.  Christy shows that exercise taking place on June 20.  A final undocking and landing is expected on June 25 according to his timeline, but with the note that it may be June 26 instead.

User Comments has the right (but not the obligation) to monitor the comments and to remove any materials it deems inappropriate.  We do not post comments that include links to other websites since we have no control over that content nor can we verify the security of such links.