Shenzhou 9 Aims To Prove Station Technology

By Bradley Perrett .
Source: Aviation Week & Space Technology .

By last year, China's manned space program had launched its Shenzhou spacecraft eight times, three of them with astronauts aboard. Yet only now, with 13 years of cautiously accumulated experience behind the program, has a Shenzhou crew been given responsibility for controlling the movement of their spacecraft. So while Shenzhou 8 last year showed that the Chinese manned space program had the technology for automatically bringing one spacecraft up to another and linking them, Shenzhou 9 has set out to prove that if the autonomous system were unavailable, then the crew could do the job manually. If they succeed, planned missions to assemble a space station around the end of the decade will not be hostage to the reliability of the automatic rendezvous and docking equipment ...

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