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Jason DavisJune 16, 2012

Shenzhou-9 reaches orbit

China’s fourth human spaceflight mission got underway this morning after a Long March 2F rocket blasted off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center at 10:37 UTC. Perched atop the launch vehicle were taikonauts Jing Haipeng, Liu Wang and Liu Yang in their Shenzhou-9 spacecraft. Liu Yang is the country’s first female taikonaut, reaching space on the forty-ninth anniversary of cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova’s historic Vostok 6 flight.

Launch video:

Shenzhou-9 reached its preliminary orbit approximately nine minutes, forty-five seconds into flight, as it separated from the Long March 2F's core stage. The spacecraft is expected to dock with Tiangong-1 on Monday, kicking off an expected ten-day aboard China’s first space station.

Photo gallery: Shenzhou-9 crew (Xinhua news agency)
Photo gallery: launch (Xinhua news agency)

Shenzhou-9 crew training

Xinhua news agency / Qin Xian'an

Shenzhou-9 crew training
The crew of Shenzhou-9 trains in a capsule simulator. From left to right: Liu Wang, Jing Haipeng and Liu Yang.

Read more: Chinese human spaceflight, mission status, human spaceflight

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Jason Davis

Journalist and Digital Editor for The Planetary Society
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