Chinese Astronauts Prepare for Manual Docking Attempt

Chinese Astronauts Prepare for Manual Docking Attempt

Chinese astronauts Jing Haipeng, Liu Wang and Liu Yang are preparing to undock the Shenzhou-9 spacecraft from the Tiangong-1 space station and then redock using manual controls instead of the automated controls used when they first docked on Monday.

Xinhua (in English) says the manual docking will take place “about noon” on Sunday Beijing time.   That would be about midnight tonight (Saturday) Eastern Daylight Time (EDT).

Liu Wang will be at the controls of Shenzhou-9 during the manual docking.   On Friday, he and mission commander Jing did a systems test while remaining docked to Tiangong-1, using Shenzhou’s thrusters to maneuver the complex.   Liu Yang, China’s first woman astronaut, monitored the test from inside Tiangong-1.

The Chinese media repeatedly state that this a 13-day mission, but have not specifically announced the landing date or time.   Thirteen days would make it Friday, June 29, so presumably if the manual docking goes well, the crew will return to Tiangong-1 for several more days.  They have been conducting a series of medical and other biological studies.  Liu Yang is in charge of the scientific program for the mission.


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