BEIJING, June 24 (Xinhua) -- Three Chinese astronauts Sunday successfully completed a manual docking between Shenzhou-9 spacecraft and the orbiting Tiangong-1 lab module, the first such attempt in China's history of space exploration.
It means China has completely grasped space rendezvous and docking technologies and the country is fully capable of transferring humans and cargo to an orbiter in space, which is essential for building a space station.
Astronaut Liu Wang, assisted by his teammates Jing Haipeng and Liu Yang, controlled the Shenzhou-9 spacecraft to dock with the Tiangong-1 space lab module at 12:42 p.m.
The Shenzhou-9 spacecraft and Tiangong-1 lab module has been conjoined again.
About one and half hours before the docking, Shenzhou-9 parted from Tiangong-1 to the berth point 400 meters away from the module.
To leave room for adjustment, engineers set up four berth points for the spaceship on the same orbit five km, 400 meters, 140 meters and 30 meters away from the orbiting lab.
The spacecraft and the space lab were joined together by an automated docking on June 18. Shenzhou-9 was sent into space on June 16 from a launch center in northwest China's Gobi desert.
A highly sophisticated space manoeuvre, manual docking requires the astronaut to link together two orbiters traveling at 7.8 kilometers a second in space without a hitch.
The astronauts will return to Tiangong-1 lab module from Shenzhou-9 spacecraft hours after the manual docking procedure to continue with experiments and research in space.