Science & Technology

Chinese spacecraft Shenzhou-12 with 3 on board returns to Earth

Beijing, Sep 17 (EFE).- Chinese spacecraft Shenzhou-12 arrived Friday back to Earth with three astronauts on board, from the space station the country is preparing to begin operating next year.

Images broadcast live on state television CGTN showed the capsule arriving at about 1:34 pm local time (05:34 GMT) Friday at the Dongfeng landing zone in the Gobi desert, in the northern Chinese province of Inner Mongolia.

Astronauts Nie Haisheng, Liu Boming and Tang Hongbo returned exactly three months after they were launched into orbit.

Reception teams on the ground operated the capsule from the outside upon landing and made the necessary preparations prior to the disembarkation of the “taikonauts,” as they are called in China.

They will be evacuated from the landing zone bound for Beijing, where they will undergo medical tests, according to CGTN. From the base, they said the return had been successful.

According to the China Manned Mission Space Agency, “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.”

On Thursday, Shenzhou-12 set out on its return journey to Earth after undocking from the space station at 08.56 a.m. local time (00.56 GMT).

In June, the astronauts headed to the central module Tianhe (“Heavenly Harmony” in Mandarin) 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 operate for about 10 years, though experts the agency cited said it could endure more than 15 years with proper maintenance. EFE


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