China Rocket Docks with Tiangong-1 Space Station

Tiangong-1 space module

Docking with the Tiangong-1 space module
Image Credit China’s Xinhua News Agency

Earlier this month China launched three astronauts on a mission to dock with their Tiangong-1 space module. The Chinese astronauts, on the country’s longest manned space mission, entered the experimental Spacelab on Thursday 6/13/13. There were concerns that moisture and microbes left from previous missions may have grown and become hazardous for their health.

Nie Haisheng, Zhang Xiaoguang and the second woman Chinese woman astronaut Wang Yaping  successfully completed an automated docking procedure with the orbiting Tiangong-1. “Astronauts of Shenzhou-10 spacecraft entered Tiangong-1, the space module today”, the Beijing Aerospace Control Centre said.

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The experimental module was a prelude to China’s efforts to construct a Spacelab by 2020.. The module, designed for a two year life span has been in orbit for over 600 days. Experts worry that there could be unknown risks that the moisture and microbes left from previous missions might have grown and become hazardous, state-run Global Times daily reported. “Those are also the risks astronauts will very likely be facing if we have a real space lab,” Hu Haifeng, a designer with the China Aerospace.

This is China’s fifth manned mission and would last a two weeks compared to last year’s 13 days.