Liu Yang, China’s first female taikonaut, was launched aboard the Shenzhou-9 spacecraft on top of a Long March 2F rocket. Jing Haipeng, a veteran of two other spaceflights, will command the mission, and Liu Wang the third member of the crew is making his inaugural flight. Liftoff from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center on Saturday in the Gobi Desert occurred Saturday morning at 3:37 Phoenix time (10:37 UTC).
The planned rendezvous with the Tiangong-1 mini-spacelab, which is already in orbit, is scheduled for 18 June. The crew will conduct one automated docking and then a manual docking. Once the docking is complete, two of the crew will work in the space station, while the third member remains on the Shenzhou-9 space craft to handle any emergency that might arise.
The expectation is that the mission will last around 20 days, after which the craft will undock and return to Earth.