Clearly it is not a ‘first’ in terms of overall Space history with the world’s first mini-space station, Salyut 1
receiving Russian astronauts for 23 days in June 1971, and with the current International Space Station having its first visitors back in 2000.
However, the Chinese are clearly very proud of their Space achievements to date and they should be congratulated for their ambition. In a time of austerity in many countries of the World and with NASA budgets suffering cut-backs and cancellations, it is refreshing to see a new enthusiasm and determination to succeed.
The Chinese taikonauts (Chinese astronauts) will live and work in the module for several days performing medical experiments, as well as studies of live butterflies, butterfly eggs and pupae. The 8.5 ton Tiangong-1 is designed to remain in use for at least 2 years and will support crews of up to three astronauts for short duration stays.
I look forward to following their next missions. Below is a clip of the entry of the taikonauts into Tiangong-1 for the first time.