Shenzhou-10 Completes Manual Docking Test, Crew Readies for Return to Earth

Shenzhou-10 Completes Manual Docking Test, Crew Readies for Return to Earth

China’s three-person Shenzhou-10 crew tested manual docking techniques with the Tiangong-1 space station this morning (Beijing time) as their two-week mission nears its end.

Maj. Gen. Nie Haisheng was at the controls as Shenzhou-10 undocked and then redocked with Tiangong-1 in a test similar to one conducted last year by the Shenzhou-9 crew.   Both spacecraft initially docked with Tiangong-1 automatically, but China wants to demonstrate that manual dockings are an alternative. The test began with undocking at 8:26 am Beijing time today (Sunday) and redocking at 10:07 am (8:26-10:07 pm Eastern Daylight Time Saturday).  After redocking, the crew reentered the space station.

The Chinese English-language media have provided little information on what Nie and his two crew mates — Zhang Xiaoguang and Wang Yaping — have been doing during their stay on Tiangong-1.  They docked on June 13, two days after launch.  Only two stories made headlines in Xinhua, China’s official news agency, and other English-language Chinese media sources: they laid a new floor in Tiangong-1 using “innovative techniques,” and Wang, China’s second woman in space, taught a science lecture to elementary and middle school students.

The manual docking test and the lecture were the two mission objectives highlighted when the crew was launched on June 11.   Otherwise, they apparently are gaining in experience in living and working in space. 

China said at the time of launch that this would be a 15-day mission, making landing on June 25 or 26.   It has not officially announced a landing time.  Bob Christy at calculates they will land at 00:09 GMT (plus or minus 5 minutes) on Wednesday, June 26.   That would be 8:09 pm Tuesday, June 25, Eastern Daylight Time.




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.