Two launch to Tiangong 2

 Jing Haipeng, left, and Chen Dong a few minutes after entering the Tiangong 2 space laboratory. Photo Credit: Xinhua

Jing Haipeng, left, and Chen Dong a few minutes after entering the Tiangong 2 space laboratory. Photo Credit: Xinhua

Two Chinese astronauts launched Oct. 17 China Standard Time in their Shenzhou 11 spacecraft. Two days later, Oct. 19, the duo rendezvoused and docked with the one-month-old Tiangong 2 space laboratory.

Docking took place at 3:31 a.m. China Standard Time (19:31 GMT Oct. 18). A few hours later, after leak checks, Jing Haipeng and Chen Dong opened hatches between the two vehicles and entered the one-room laboratory.

The two will spend a month aboard the outpost to test advanced live support systems and conduct various science experiments.

This is the second Chinese space station and the sixth flight overall from the Asian country. After the Shenzhou 11, the next flight to dock with Tiangong 2 will be the Tianzhou 1 unpiloted cargo ship. It is expected to launch in April 2017 to test autonomous fuel transfer between the two craft.

As of right now, there are eight people in orbit in two different space stations. There are six at the International Space Station.

Video courtesy of CCTV News

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Derek Richardson

I am a space geek who loves to write about space.

My passion for space ignited when I watched space shuttle Discovery leap to space on October 29, 1998. Today, this fervor has accelerated toward orbit and shows no signs of slowing down. After dabbling in math and engineering courses in college, I soon realized that my true calling was communicating to others about space exploration and spreading that passion.

Currently, I am a senior at Washburn University studying Mass Media with an emphasis in contemporary journalism. In addition to running Orbital Velocity, I write for the Washburn Review and am the Managing Editor for SpaceFlight Insider.