China's Shenzhou-13 crew has successfully completed the rendezvous and docking test between Tianzhou-2 cargo spacecraft and China's space station.
The mission was finished at 7:55 a.m. Beijing time on Saturday, and it was conducted manually by the three-member crew inside the space station's core module Tianhe, with the assistance from scientific and technical personnel at ground.
"The crew first issued control instructions to disconnect the cargo spacecraft with the core module, and then made the cargo spacecraft fall back a certain distance from the core module through manual remote operation," Yang Sheng, the cargo spacecraft system's chief designer, told China Media Group. "After that, the crew sent command to the cargo spacecraft again to re-dock it with the space station."
Manual remote operation docking tests have significant importance to the construction of the space station.
"The cargo spacecraft will not be able to dock with the space station once the automatic rendezvous and docking fails, so they need to be switched into manual remote operation function mode as a backup," Yang explained.
The Tianzhou-2 cargo spacecraft will later break from the core module after the rendezvous and docking test. It will pack the wastes from the space station assembly, de-orbit and re-enter the atmosphere where it will be burned, according to Yang. "This is also a key technology for the construction of the space station."
The test on Saturday helped to verify the designed performance of the manual remote operation system for any visiting spacecraft, and the rationality of the working procedure between the space station and the ground control.