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Docking between Shenzhou-11 & Tiangong-2


10-19-2016 03:11 BJT

Full coverage: China Tiangong-2 Space Lab Launch

The Shenzhou-11 spacecraft has been preparing for this docking since it entered orbit on the 17th. It has been chasing the Tiangong-2 and was about 5 kilometers away from the space lab as of about half past two Beijing time this morning.

As for the Tiangong-2, it has been in orbit nearly 400 kilometers above the earth for one month now, and turned 180 degrees for the docking procedure just a day before the launch of Shenzhou-11. The spacecraft will pause and adjust its position four times... at 5 kilometers, 400 meters, 120 meters and 30 meters away from Tiangong-2.

If any problems are detected with the sensitive instruments and communication equipment during the pause at 120 meters away, the astronauts will switch to a manual docking mode instead of doing it automatically.

When the two crafts are 30 meters away from each other, they will start a preliminary connection. The procedure finishes when twelve hooks in the docking ring are tightly locked.

The astronauts will then enter the space lab through a passage in between and start their 30-day life in space. 

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