3 occupants of Chinese space station begin return to Earth
Beijing, Sep 16 (EFE).- Chinese spacecraft Shenzhou-12 began Thursday its return trip to Earth with three Chinese astronauts on board who have spent the last 90 days in the Chinese space station.
China’s Manned Mission Space Agency reported in a statement that Shenzhou-12 undocked at 08.56 local time (00.56 GMT) Thursday from the space station.
Before the disengagement maneuver, the statement said crew members carried out routine tasks with the help of ground personnel, such as tasks prior to evacuation, recording the status of the space station or downloading data from experiments.
According to the source, “Shenzhou-12 personnel have worked and lived on the space station for 90 days, a record for life in space on a single mission for Chinese astronauts.”
In June, astronauts Nie Haisheng, Liu Boming and Tang Hongbo headed to Tianhe (“Heavenly Harmony” in Mandarin) central module to work on the Tiangong (“Heavenly Palace”) space station, whose operations are scheduled to begin in 2022.
According to state news agency Xinhua, the space station will orbit the Earth at an altitude of between 340 and 450 kilometers, and is designed to last about 10 years, although it said experts are confident it could operate more than 15 years with proper maintenance. EFE