Chinese Astronauts Return to Earth Following Six-month Mission

By Lars James Hamer, December 5, 2022

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Three Chinese astronauts successfully returned to Earth after completing a six-month mission that China’s space agency has called a “complete success” aboard the country’s space station.

The crew embarked on their journey to the country’s Tiangong space station on June 5. 

They landed on board the Shenzhou-14 spacecraft on Sunday, December 4, 2022, in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. 

Crew commander Chen Dong and teammates Liu Yang and Cai Xuzhe told state broadcaster CCTV that they felt well after landing. 

The landing capsule landed at circa 8pm local time and staff at the landing site carried the crew out of the capsule. 

After undocking from the Tiangong space station, the journey back to earth took roughly nine hours. 

Yang is the country’s first female astronaut and she said that she is excited to be back in the motherland and has unforgettable memories from her time on the space station. 

The three astronauts' mission was to oversee the arrival of the second and third modules for Tiangong. They also carried out three spacewalks to check and test new equipment. 

Three new astronauts arrived at the space station on Wednesday, November 28, in the Shenzhou-15 spacecraft from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the Gobi Desert. 

They will also embark on a six-month stay in the station, the last of 11 planned missions to assemble Tiangong.

Tiangong is expected to operate for around 10 years and run experiments in near-zero gravity. 

The new crew’s primary focus will be installing equipment and facilities, a spokesperson for the China Manned Space Administration said. 

China is the third country, after the US and the Soviet Union, to build a space station and put astronauts into space. 

Tiangong is China’s permanent space station after the launch of two temporary stations, named Tiangong-1 and Tiangong-2. 

China has previously stated that once Tiangong is completed, they plan to launch several space missions, including collecting near-Earth asteroid samples by 2025 and launching a Mars sample-return mission, sending an unmanned probe to Jupiter and landing astronauts on the moon, all by 2030. 

[Cover image via Global Times]

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