Chinese space capsule, 3 astronauts land after record 6 months in space
Beijing, Apr 16 (EFE).- China’s Shenzhou-13 capsule landed Saturday in the Gobi Desert after completing its mission at Tiangong space station, where three astronauts have spent 183 days in the longest manned mission carried out by Beijing so far.
Rescue teams rushed to the Dongfeng landing site in north China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, the official Xinhua news agency reported.
The 9.56 am landing was successful and the three astronauts are in good health, the Global Times newspaper reported, citing the China Manned Space Agency.
Astronauts Zhai Zhigang, Ye Guangfu and Wang Yaping, who became the first Chinese woman to perform a space walk, exited the capsule by 11.05 am and are “adapting to gravity,” it added.
The return to Earth took about eight hours after the Shenzhou-13 completed the separation of the main module of Tiangong.
This is China’s second manned mission to its space station, which is expected to be ready by the end of this year.
Since its launch on Oct. 16, the astronauts have completed various tasks to advance the preparation of Tiangong, including two spacewalks, more than 20 scientific experiments, and data collection.
China’s next manned space mission will take place this year and will again consist of six people, the program’s chief designer Zhou Jianping said in March.
The country will send two astronaut crews, two space labs and two cargo ships to Tiangong in 2022, Zhou said, adding that the station will enter an assembly phase in May.
The astronauts of Shenzhou-14 and Shenzhou-15 are scheduled to finish construction work on Tiangong, according to 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 orbiting about 400 kilometers above the Earth’s surface. EFE