On 24 June, three Chinese astronauts, including Liu Yang, the country’s first female astronaut, who had been launched into space on 16 June, successfully completed a manual docking between the 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 transporting humans and cargo to an orbiter in space, which is essential for building a space station in 2020.
A highly sophisticated space manoeuvre, manual docking requires the astronaut to connect together two orbiters travelling at 7.8 kilometres a second in space without a hitch.
The manual docking was completed in only seven minutes, three minutes faster than the automatic docking.
Wu Ping, spokeswoman for China’s manned space programme, reported that the manual space docking was “a complete success”.
China is the third country, after the United States and Russia, to acquire the technologies and skills necessary for space rendezvous and docking and to be able to supply manpower and material to an orbiting module via different docking methods. However, on present trends, it is likely to be the only nation with an operating space station in 2020.
The three comrades are due to return to earth on 29 June, after what will have been China’s longest space flight to date, and we wish them a safe return home.
Lalkar also congratulates and sends its warmest greetings to the three astronauts, all comrades working on China’s space programme, and to the Communist Party, government, People’s Liberation Army and people of China on this historic feat of science, technology and human ingenuity and bravery. Their achievement is of immense significance.
It fully demonstrates that Comrade Mao Zedong was a thousand times right when he declared that “the Chinese people have stood up” and that “ only socialism can save China”.
It shows that the former “sick man of Asia” is now a leading world power, capable not only of changing the earth, but of conquering space, too. This has major implications for China’s economic development, its science and technology, and its national defence.
And last, but by no means least, in following the trail blazed by Soviet cosmonaut, Comrade Valentina Tereshkova, Comrade Liu Yang has once again proved that, as Comrade Mao Zedong taught, women do indeed hold up half the sky!