A Shenzhou-9 spacecraft with three people on board has successfully carried out an automatic space docking mission on Monday. The Chinese are now a step closer to creating a national manned space station.
The spacecraft blasted off on Saturday for a 13-day mission. China’s first female space explorer, 33-year-old Liu Yang, is among the three crew members.
Monday’s docking with the Tiangong-1 orbital module is the third such maneuver performed by the Chinese, although it has not previously been done by a manned spacecraft.
The crew is expected to undock in six days and carry out a manual docking, which will be one of the highlights of the ongoing mission. The ability to perform the tricky procedure is essential for China’s ambitious plan to have a national manned space station operating by 2020.