China spacecraft successfully docks in orbit: Xinhua

BEIJING (AFP) - A Chinese spacecraft on Thursday carried out a successful docking, state media said, two days after the launch of the country's longest manned space mission.

The Shenzhou-10 spacecraft linked up with the Tiangong-1 module at 5.18am GMT (1.18pm Singapore time) in an "automated docking", state news agency Xinhua said.

Three astronauts, including China's second woman in space, are spending 15 days in orbit as the country's ambitious space programme reaches another milestone.

The docking success comes almost a year after the Shenzhou-9 spacecraft performed China's first manual docking with the same module.

The manoeuvre last year tested a docking technique that is needed to be able to construct a space station, which China aims to do by 2020.

Beijing sees the multi-billion-dollar space programme as a symbol of its growing global stature and technical expertise, and of the ruling Communist Party's success in turning around the fortunes of the once poverty-stricken nation.