China’s second manned mission reached the Tiangong space station, which is still under construction, on Saturday. The three astronauts left the Shenzhou-13 spacecraft and entered the station’s core module.

The Shenzhou-13 (Divine Vessel) successfully docked to the port of the space station at 6:56am (21:56 GMT).

The three astronauts, or ‘taikonauts’ as the Chinese call them, made it from the vessel to the space station’s Tianhe core module at 10:03am, the China Manned Space Agency announced.

Footage from inside Tiangong shows them greeting mission control back on Earth, becoming acquainted with the station’s equipment, and having some fun in zero-gravity.

The crew – Zhai Zhigang, 55, Wang Yaping, 41, and Ye Guangfu, 41 – will spend the next six months in orbit, making it the longest mission in the history of China’s space program.

During this time, they will try out the key technology and robotics required to assemble the space station, test the onboard life support systems, and conduct various scientific experiments.

While this is Ye’s first trip to space, it is the second time for mission commander Zhai, who performed China’s first spacewalk in 2008. Wang, the first female on the Tiangong space station, has also been to space before (2013). (RT)