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Chinese astronauts enter space station following docking

In this image taken off the screen at the Beijing Aerospace Control Center on Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016 and released by Xinhua News Agency, two Chinese astronauts Jing Haipeng, left and Chen Dong salute in the space lab Tiangong 2. China says a pair of astronauts aboard have entered the country’s orbiting space station for a month-long stay. Chinese character on bottom left reads "Inside Tiangong." (Ju Zhenhua/Xinhua via AP)
October 18, 2016 - 7:26 PM

BEIJING - China says a pair of astronauts have entered the country's orbiting space station for a month-long stay.

The official Xinhua News Agency said the Shenzhou 11 spacecraft that blasted off Monday morning docked early Wednesday with the Tiangong 2 station.

It said veteran mission commander Jing Haipeng opened the hatch and entered the station that was launched last month, followed by astronaut Chen Dong, who is making his first journey into space.

The 30-day mission is China's longest and most ambitious to date, displaying the growing sophistication of the country's manned program that first launched a human into space 13 years ago.

The Tiangong 2 module is a precursor to a larger space station that will become fully functioning six years from now.

News from © The Associated Press, 2016
The Associated Press

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