Chinese astronauts return from space station — Analysis

After a three-month stay at the Tiangong station, the astronauts from China have now returned to their home. During that time the crew conducted a variety of construction and experimentation projects using orbital modules.

The astronauts landed in China’s Inner Mongolia region on Saturday morning after a nine-hour journey, during which their Shenzhou spacecraft reached speeds of up to 200 meters per second as it hurdled toward Earth, according to local media. 

According to medical workers on the landing site, the crew was healthy. “in good condition”China Daily reported on touching down

Astronauts Zhai Zhigang, Wang Yaping, and Ye Guangfu left for the space station last October and spent around half a year in orbit, installing parts of Tiangong’s external mechanical arm and conducting tests and experiments in that time. Wang made history when, in November, she was the first Chinese woman who performed a spacewalk. She had previously been the first female to work on the station.

Chinese astronauts, including first woman, complete space walk outside future space station

China Manned Space Agency scientists will be reviewing data from the mission and the results of their research. “key technologies” used. In preparation for Shenzhou 14’s next launch, an unmanned supply mission will be conducted as early as February.

The station’s core module, Tianhe, was brought into orbit last April and will ultimately be connected to two others – named Mengtian and Wentian – by the end of 2022. Once the station is completed, it will weigh about 66 tons, or roughly half the size of the Soviet Mir, which to date is the first and only continuously inhabited multi-modular station developed and operated by a single state. China does not rule out the possibility of expanding the initial configuration to six modules in the future.

The first crew, which included three astronauts and spent 90 days in space, returned to Tianhe in September.

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