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China launches female taikonaut on Shenzhou 9 which docks successfully

18 Jun 2012, 10:07 UTC
China launches female taikonaut on Shenzhou 9 which docks successfully
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Shenzhou 9's crew as seen on television during the latter stages of their launch. Courtesy: CCTV
China has successfully launched its Shenzhou 9 spacecraft into orbit. The Long March 2F/G flight carrying the spacecraft took place from the Xichang launch site at 1037 GMT on 16 June. The spacecraft was carrying three Chinese atronauts {"Taikonauts") into orbit: Jing Haipeng, Liu Wang and Liu Yang - China's first female astronaut.
In a show of the Chinese leadership's confidence in its space programme, Chinese television, CCTV, was allowed to broadcast the launch live. The impressive coverage included the major seperation events and deployment of the craft's solar arrays. After a few days in orbit, the Shenzhou spacecraft used an automatic system make a precision docking with the Tiangong 1 mini-space station/laboratory at 0608 GMT on 18 June. The hatch was opened and the two male crew entered the space station at circa 0910 GMT.
It is planned that the crew will later undock and then redock the Shenzhou 9 spacecraft using a manual method.

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