Jun 13, 2013 5:41 PM by Rob Perillo
BEIJING (AP) -- China's latest manned space capsule docked with an orbiting space station Thursday, and the three astronauts climbed aboard what will be their home for the next week, state media reported.
Automated controls guided the Shenzhou-10's docking with the space lab, the Xinhua News Agency said. After entering the space lab, the crew exchanged their space gear for blue jumpsuits, Xinhua said.
During their 12-day stay at the lab, the astronauts will perform a manual docking exercise and conduct scientific experiments. They will also deliver a series of science lectures - part of an outreach to increase the space program's popularity among younger Chinese.
The lab, the Tiangong-1, is an experimental space station. In operation for less than two years, it will be taken out of use later this year and replaced by a larger, more durable module by 2020.
The latest Shenzhou flight the fifth manned mission in a decade in a program that has been marked by methodical advances to catch up with the other two manned space powers - Russia and the U.S.
In this image made off the screen at the Beijing Aerospace Control Center and released by China's Xinhua News Agency, Chinese astronauts, from left, Wang Yaping, Zhang Xiaoguang and Nie Haisheng, wave inside the Tiangong-1 space module Thursday, June 13, 2013. China's Shenzhou-10 manned spacecraft successfully completed an automated docking with the orbiting space module Thursday and the three astronauts climbed aboard what will be their home for the next week, state media reported. (AP Photo/Xinhua)