China has taken a huge step towards constructing its own permanent space station by sending its first female astronaut into space, and docking with its Tiangong space module.
China launched Liu Yang into orbit aboard the Shenzou-9 craft on Saturday, from the Jiuquan spaceport, along with Commander Jing Haipen and flight engineer Liu Wang.
On Monday the craft docked successfully with the Tiangong space module, which is also known as 'Heavenly Place'.
The docking was completed by an automatic system, helped by a range of laser targeting systems and sensors.
The crew will now enter the module and spend 13 days working and sleeping onboard, completing tests and sending messages back home.
Only two members of the crew will enter the module at once, in case of emergency.
The mission - China's fourth manned in space - is seen as a vital test ahead of a full-scale attempt to build an orbiting space craft to compete with the International Space Station headed by the US and Russia.
And with the US still unable to launch its own astronauts until 2017 and Russia pulling back from manned space missions altogether, some believe China could soon be the dominant power in space.
China has said it is planning a unmanned Moon mission, possibly followed by other missions carrying astronauts.