Skip to comments.China launches space mission with first woman astronaut (first mission to Chinese space-station)
Posted on 06/16/2012 9:46:13 AM PDT by JerseyanExile
China has launched its latest manned space mission - whose crew includes its first female astronaut, Liu Yang.
The Shenzhou-9 capsule rode to orbit atop a Long March rocket from the Jiuquan spaceport on the edge of the Gobi desert.
Ms Liu and her two male colleagues are heading to the Tiangong space lab.
They will spend over a week living and working on the 335km-high vessel, testing new systems and conducting a number of scientific experiments.
Before leaving, the crew were presented to Communist Party officials, VIPs and the media.
Wearing their flight suits and sitting behind glass, they waved and smiled.
"We will obey orders, listen to directions and be calm; and co-ordinate together to successfully complete China's first manned rendezvous and docking mission," said Commander Jing Haipeng.
China's top legislator, Wu Bangguo, wished them well and told them: "We are expecting your safe return."
The Shenzhou-9 spacecraft lifted off on schedule at 18:37 local time (10:37 GMT; 11:37 BST).
All systems appeared to function normally and eight minutes later, the spacecraft had entered orbit. Very shortly after Shenzhou-9 had unfurled its solar panels.
It will take a couple of days to reach Tiangong. A docking is planned for Monday at 15:00 Beijing time (07:00 GMT; 08:00 BST).
Mr Jing, 46, is making his second spaceflight after participating in the Shenzhou-7 outing in 2008 - the mission that included China's first spacewalk.
His flight engineers are both first-timers, however.
Liu Wang, 42, a People's Liberation Army fighter pilot, has got his chance after spending 14 years in the China National Space Administration's astronaut corps.
Thirty-three-year-old Liu Yang, also a fighter pilot, has on the other hand emerged as China's first woman astronaut after just two years of training.
(Excerpt) Read more at bbc.co.uk ...