Chinese astronauts land on the space station after 6 months

Three Chinese astronauts have returned to Earth after six months aboard China’s newest space station in the longest-ever manned mission for its ambitious space program

The landing of the Shenzhou 13 space capsule in the Gobi desert in the northern region of Inner Mongolia was broadcast live on state television.

During the mission, astronaut Wang Yaping performed the first spacewalk by a Chinese woman. Wang and crewmates Zhai Zhigang and Ye Guangfu beamed back at the high school physics class.

China sent its first astronaut into space in 2003 and landed robotic rovers on the moon in 2013 and on Mars last year. Officials have discussed a possible manned mission to the moon.

On Saturday, state television showed images from inside the capsule as it traveled over Africa at 200 meters per second before entering the atmosphere.

The trio were the second crew aboard Tiangong, or Heavenly Palace. Its core module, Tianhe, was launched in April 2021. The plan is to complete construction this year by adding two more modules.

Authorities have yet to announce a date for the launch of the next Tiangong crew.

China is barred from the International Space Station because the US fears its space program is being run by the military wing of the ruling Communist Party, the People’s Liberation Army.

China became the third nation, after the former Soviet Union and the United States, to send an astronaut into space alone.

Tiangong is China’s third space station after predecessors launched in 2011 and 2016.

The government announced in 2020 that China’s first reusable spacecraft had landed after a test flight, but no photos or details of the vehicle were released.

On Tuesday, President Xi Jinping visited the Wenchang launch site on the southern island of Hainan, from which the Tianhe module was launched.

“Insist on pursuing the frontier of global aerospace development and the top strategic needs of national aerospace,” Xi told staff at the site, all in military uniform. Chinese astronauts land on the space station after 6 months

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