Three Chinese astronauts return to Earth after six months in space

Three Chinese astronauts return to Earth after six months in space

China’s Shenzhou-13 spacecraft landed this Saturday in the Gobi Desert after the completion of operations at the Tiangong space station, where the three astronauts spent 183 days in the longest manned mission ever conducted by China.

Rescuers immediately went to the Dongfeng landing site in China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region (North), according to the official news agency Xinhua.

The fit “was perfect and three taikonauts are in very good condition”, the newspaper reported Global Times with reference to the Beijing Aerospace Management Center.

The pictures published so far show ground workers opening the hatch of the capsule, but astronauts Zhai Zhigang, Ye Guangfu and Wang Yaping have not yet been seen, the latter became the second Chinese woman in space, and in November last year, the first went on an “exit to the open space”.

Rescue teams immediately rushed to the Dongfeng landing point in the Chinese autonomous region of Mongolia.
Rescue teams immediately rushed to the Dongfeng landing point in the Chinese autonomous region of Mongolia.

The return to Earth took about nine hours after Shenzhou-13 completed the separation of the main module from the Tiangong space station this morning.

This is the second manned mission that China is sending to its space stationwhich is expected to be ready by the end of this year.

Since the launch on October 16, taikonauts completed several tasks to promote the preparation of the Chinese space station, including two spacewalks, more than twenty scientific experiments and data collection.

China’s next manned space mission will take place this year and will again be a six-person mission, Zhou Jianping, chief designer of China’s manned space project, announced last March.

China's next manned space mission will take place this year and will again consist of six people
China’s next manned space mission will take place this year and will again consist of six people

The Asian country will bring “two experimental modules, two manned ships and two cargo ships” to Tiangong in 2022, Zhou said, adding that the station will enter a “construction phase” starting in May.

Taikonauts from Shenzhou-14 and Shenzhou-15 are expected to complete the construction work on Tiangong, which should be ready by the end of this year, according to the original plans.

The Chinese space station, whose name means “Heavenly Palace” in Mandarin, will weigh about 70 tons and is expected to operate for about 15 years in an orbit about 400 kilometers from the earth’s surface.