BEIJING, Oct. 3 (Xinhua) -- Three astronauts of the Shenzhou-9 mission who conducted China's first manned space docking in June were given medals for their service to the country's space endeavors.
Jing Haipeng, commander of the Shenzhou-9 flight crew, was honored with a second-class aerospace achievement medal; Liu Wang and Liu Yang, who was China's first female astronaut, were both conferred third-class medals and the honorary title of "heroic astronaut."
The decision was made on Oct. 1 by the Communist Party of China Central Committee, the State Council and the Central Military Commission, said an official statement released Wednesday.
The three astronauts aboard Shenzhou-9 spacecraft were sent into space on June 16. They successfully operated the spacecraft to conduct both automatic and manual space dockings with the target orbiter of Tiangong-1.
The three crew members also entered Tiangong-1, which was launched in September 2011, and completed a series of scientific experiments in space before returning to Earth on June 29.
"The complete success of manned space docking maneuvers illustrates another major breakthrough of China's space docking technology, marking significant progress in the second step of China's manned space program," the statement said.
It was a new achievement in the effort to build China into an innovative nation, and a "new glory" made by the Chinese people in their "mount towards the summit of science and technology," said the statement.
The achievement was also deemed as "remarkable progress" by the country and for mankind's exploration of outer space, it said.
The exploration has far-reaching significance in enhancing China's comprehensive power, rousing national ethos and inspiring people of all ethnic groups as well as creating new prospects for the socialist cause with Chinese characteristics, it added.
The three Shenzhou-9 astronauts were outstanding representatives who have contributed to the success of the mission, the statement said, calling on the country to learn from the astronauts' fearless and adventurous spirit as well as their strict and cautious scientific professionalism.
China is the third country after the U.S. and Russia to independently acquire manned spaceflights, space walking and space docking technologies.
The Shenzhou-9 mission was Jing Haipeng's second spaceflight following his Shenzhou-7 mission in September 2008.
Yang Liwei was China's first astronaut sent into space in 2005. Eight Chinese astronauts have been sent into space by Shenzhou spacecrafts. The country aims to build a space station around 2020.