In what marks the first of its kind attempt in China's history of space exploration, the manual docking between the Shenzhou-9 spacecraft and the in-orbit Tiangong-1 lab module was successfully completed by three Chinese astronauts on Sunday.
It was at about 12:48 p. m. that the three Chinese astronauts - Liu Wang, Jing Haipeng, and Liu Yang; who have been living and working in the module for the past week - controlled the Shenzhou-9 spacecraft for its manual docking with the Tiangong-1 space lab module; and the two were reconnected about seven minutes later.
In an earlier preparation for the manual reconnection, almost one and a half hours before the docking took place, the Shenzhou-9 was parted from Tiangong-1 to a berth point 400 meters away from the module.
The Shenzhou 9 capsule's docking with the Tiangong 1 module - which comes close on the heels of a last-week docking which was carried out by remote control from a ground base in China - was telecast live on the national TV network in China.
With Liu Weibo - who shoulders the responsibility for China's astronaut system - saying that the manual docking was "beautifully conducted," and that it was "very accurate and swift," it is quite apparent that China has completely grasped space rendezvous and docking technologies; and is now fully capable of hauling humans and cargo to an orbiter in space --- a capability which is vital for building a space station in 2020!