Sunday evening/Monday morning, Shenzhou 11 blasted off with two crew on board, and today it linked up with the Tiangong-2 space station, China’s newest human spaceflight program. Aboard are astronauts Jing Haipeng and Chen Dong; the two men plan to spend just over a month at the station. Previous Shenzhou missions have carried three crew; this mission downsized to two in order to allow a longer stay due to a reduced need for consumables. As of the time I write this, they have not yet ingressed the Tiangong-2 station, but are awaiting pressure checks. They will be the first crew of the new station.
Perhaps the most amazing thing is that I have heard not a peep about this in the regular media. I almost missed the story entirely. Human spaceflight! How is this not getting reported? Are we already so jaded with respect to human spaceflight? Heck, I’d think that in the current election season, it would make a welcome distraction.
So, here comes that distraction. 😉 The launch of Shenzhou 11:
And here’s docking: