China’s Xinhua news agency reports today that “China’s Shenzhou-9 Mission Successful“. The crew of the groundbreaking space mission landed safely in inner Mongolia on Friday. This marks a significant milestone in China’s rapidly developing space program.
This mission was historically significant on many levels. As earlier reported by our own Debjyoti Bardhan, China successfully docked their spacecraft with the Tiangong-I Space Station module not only once automatically, but a second time using manual controls. Also, of historical significance is the first female Chinese astronaut, Liu Yang, pictured on the far right below.
Once on the ground, medical staff entered the capsule to report that all were in good condition. While in the capsule the astronauts reported to their command center, ”We have returned, and we feel good.”
The success of this mission serves to bolster confidence that China can be a formidable player in manned space exploration. They are now confident that they can move on with the next stages of their space program.
The success of the procedure shows that 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 the country’s plans to build a space station around 2020.
It will be interesting to see how China’s future plans work out. Until now only the Russians and Americans were able to achieve such missions to space. Until this point the Americans had mostly objected to any participation by China in the International Space Station missions. China is spending massive amounts of money to bring this program online to the tune of billions of dollars. Hopefully, someday our countries can unify around a common goal and pool their resources to better serve all of humanity. For the time being, it appears everyone is just showing off what they can do on their own. Congratulations to China on this historic achievement!