China has gone one small step closer to realising its goal of building a space station by 2020, by successfully completing a manual docking in space.
Followed by state television, the three man crew of the Shenzou 9, separated to about 400 metres away from an experimental lab module before re-connecting under the manual control of the astronauts.
Wu Ping, spokesman for China’s manned space programme, called the mastery of docking technology a decisive step and said it lays a firm foundation for further construction of a space station.
This mission also floats into the history books as it includes China’s first woman in space.
As the United States downsizes its space programme, China’s has continued to move forward in leaps and bounds. It is now becoming a major contender in space.