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Three Chinese astronauts return to Earth after six months in space

Three Chinese astronauts landed in northern China on Saturday after 183 days in space, state broadcaster CCTV said, ending the country’s longest-ever manned space mission.

The Shenzhou-13 spacecraft is the latest mission in Beijing’s bid to become a major space power rivaling the US, after it landed a rover on Mars and sent probes to the moon.

The two men and one woman — Zhai Zhigang, Ye Guangfu and Wang Yaping — landed in a small capsule just before 10 a.m. Beijing time, after being aboard the Tianhe core module of China’s Tiangong space station for six months.

“The Shenzhou 13 re-entry capsule has landed successfully,” state broadcaster CCTV said.

The trio originally launched last October from Shenzhou-13 in northwest China’s Gobi Desert as the second of four manned missions in 2021-2022 dispatched to build the country’s first permanent space station — Tiangong, which means “more heavenly.” palace” means.

Wang became the first Chinese woman to spacewalk last November when she and colleague Zhai spent a six-hour stint installing equipment on the space station.

Astronauts Ye Guangfu, Wang Yaping and Zhai Zhigang wave at a farewell ceremony ahead of their launch on the Shenzhou 13 spacecraft in October 2021 Astronauts Ye Guangfu, Wang Yaping and Zhai Zhigang wave at a farewell ceremony ahead of their launch on the Shenzhou 13 spacecraft in October 2021 Photo: AFP/STR

The trio have completed two spacewalks during their time in orbit, conducted numerous science experiments, set up equipment and tested technologies for future construction.

Astronauts have spent the past few weeks cleaning up and preparing cabin facilities and equipment for the crew of the incoming Shenzhou-14, which is scheduled to launch in the coming months.

Tiangong is expected to operate for at least 10 years, and the three astronauts are the second group to remain there.

Mission Commander Zhai is a former fighter pilot who conducted China’s first spacewalk in 2008, while Ye is a pilot in the People’s Liberation Army.

China’s previous record length in space missions was set by last year’s Shenzhou-12 mission, which lasted 92 days.

According to CCTV, six months is becoming the normal length of stay for astronauts aboard the Chinese space station.

https://www.ibtimes.com/three-chinese-astronauts-return-earth-after-six-months-space-3475988?utm_source=Public&utm_medium=Feed&utm_campaign=Distribution Three Chinese astronauts return to Earth after six months in space

Brian Ashcraft

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