China's Shenzhou-11 capsule docks with Tiangong-2 station

A month in space is the plan as China's ambitions escalate

The Chinese capsule launched yesterday atop a Long March-2F rocket has successfully docked with the country's space station.

Xinhua News enthusiastically Tweeted each step of the process as the Shenzhou-11 docked with the Tiangong-2 space lab.

The “Taikonauts” are due to spend 30 days on the space station, more than doubling the 15-day duration of the 2013 mission to the now-defunct Tiangong-1.

As well as medical experiments and technology tests, astronauts Jing Haipeng and Chen Dong are carrying experiments from Hong Kong school students, including watching silk worms' behaviour in space.

The “Divine Vessel” Tiangong-2 was launched in September 2016. It's part of a three-stage Tiangong program, a precursor to what's currently known as the Chinese large modular space station.

The core module for the modulation space station is due to launch in 2018, and that mission should be complete in the 2020s.

The Tiangong-1 mission ended in June when the country's space agency said it had lost control of the satellite. It's due to provide the world fireworks late in 2017 when it re-enters the atmosphere. ®

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