China 'one step closer' to constructing space station (+video)
A trio of Chinese astronauts, including the country's first woman in space, successfully docked with an orbiting test module.
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Later, Liu Yang entered Tiangong 1 and applause was heard from China's mission control room at the Beijing Aerospace Control Center as all three Shenzhou 9 astronauts boarded the module.Skip to next paragraph
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"I feel honored to fly into space on behalf of hundreds of millions of Chinese females," Liu said before the launch, according to Chinese state news agency Xinhua.
Now that they have arrived at their new orbital home, the taikonauts will soon start settling in and exploring the Tiangong 1 module. In addition to necessary equipment, a collection of surprise trinkets have been planted around the lab for the astronauts to find, both for fun and to test the crew's puzzle-solving abilities in orbit.
"Discovering unexpected items by themselves could add more fun to living in space," said Chen Shanguang, general director of the astronaut system department, Xinhua reported.
Tiangong 1 launched in September 2011, with another unmanned vehicle, Shenzhou 8, lifting off in November of that year to link up with it, marking China's first docking. This crewed docking a new step forward for China's plans to built a large manned space station by the year 2020.
Eventually, China aims to land people on the moon, officials with the country's space program have said.
- Liftoff! Launch Photos of China's Shenzhou 9 Docking Mission
- China Launches Crew Of Three To Tiangong 1 Space Station | Video
- Shenzhou 9 Explained: China's 1st Female Astronaut Heads to Space Lab (Infographic)
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