Home News Three Chinese astronauts return to Earth after record six months in space

Three Chinese astronauts return to Earth after record six months in space

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It is China’s longest stay in space. The three astronauts of the Shenzhou-13 mission returned to Earth this Saturday, April 16 after six months spent in the Chinese space station.

This is another successful step for Beijing in its ambitious space program to catch up with the United States, Europe and Russia.

After triggering its red and white parachute, the return capsule where the crew – made up of a woman and two men – had taken place landed shortly before 10 a.m. in the desert of Inner Mongolia (northern China ).

The crew was made up of three army pilots: commander Zhai Zhigang (55), his colleague Wang Yaping (42) who became the first Chinese to carry out a spacewalk in November, and the youngest Ye Guangfu (41 years old), whose first spaceflight it was.

Zhai Zhigang exited the capsule first, about 45 minutes after landing. The former fighter pilot, who performed China’s first spacewalk in 2008, waved to the cameras, smiling, as he was hoisted up by ground crew, before being bundled up in a blanket.

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With 183 days in space, the crew smashes the previous national record for a stay in space, which was 92 days and was set in 2021 during the previous manned mission, Shenzhou-12.

“World-class” site

In six months, the crew carried out two spacewalks, continued the construction of the station, led two courses via the Internet for Chinese schoolchildren, carried out experiments and refined their mastery of long-term stays.

Next stages of construction: the dispatch of a cargo ship in May then another manned mission, Shenzhou-14, which should be launched in June. The last two space station modules are to be sent from July. They will take the direction of space from the launch center of Wenchang, located on the tropical island of Hainan (south) and whose Chinese President Xi Jinping declared Thursday that he wanted to make it a “world-class” site.

From Shenzhou-14, the CSS should be permanently occupied. China has been investing billions of euros in its space program for decades, and sent its first astronaut into space in 2003.

Since then, he has achieved some remarkable feats, especially in recent years. At the beginning of 2019, it placed a machine on the far side of the Moon, a world first. In 2020, it brought back samples from the Moon and finalized Beidou, its satellite navigation system, a competitor to the American GPS.

In 2021, it landed a small robot on Mars and plans to send men to the Moon by 2030. China has been barred from the International Space Station since 2011, when the United States banned NASA to engage with the Asian country.

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