[FPSPACE] Docking problems reported on first Shenzhou/Tiangong mission

James Oberg jameseoberg at comcast.net
Tue Mar 5 08:28:05 EST 2013


An unmanned Shenzhou spacecraft docked with Tiangong-1 for the first time in November 2011, and the docking mechanism didn't work exactly as planned, some say.

 "It was originally bouncing off," Bob Chesson, an ESA human spaceflight advisor, told SPACE.com. "Essentially they have to ram this [Shenzhou] thing in and they are very worried that if you assemble a station like that, you basically will have all sorts of structure fracture mechanics problems, that type of thing."

The Shenzhou spacecraft is not heavy enough to activate the APAS docking system correctly, Chesson said, so it had to be rammed forcefully to make a connection.
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