3 Chinese astronauts completes country's longest crewed mission; Details inside
The mission was part of China's well-publicized space programme, which has previously resulted in the country landing a rover on Mars and sending probes to the moon.
After 90 days in the Tiangong space station conducting spacewalks and scientific experiments, three Chinese astronauts completed the country's longest crewed mission and began their return home on Thursday. According to official broadcaster CCTV, the Shenzhou-12 human spacecraft has safely detached from the space station's core module. The mission was part of China's well-publicized space programme, which has previously resulted in the country landing a rover on Mars and sending probes to the moon.
According to state-run China Aerospace News, the ship carrying the three taikonauts is slated to return to Earth on Friday. The launch of Beijing's first crewed mission in over five years, on July 1, coincided with the ruling Communist Party's 100th anniversary and was the centrepiece of a vast propaganda effort. The "heavenly palace," Tiangong, is intended to survive at least ten years.
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According to China's space administration, the core module of the space station, where the astronauts resided, contains separate living rooms for each astronaut, as well as a "space treadmill" and an exercise cycle, as well as a communication centre for emails and video chats with ground control. Nie Haisheng, a renowned airforce pilot in the People's Liberation Army who has already participated in two space missions, is in charge of the operation. Liu Boming and Tang Hongbo, the other two astronauts, are also military personnel.
Before the end of the year, the Chinese space agency plans 11 launches, including three more crewed missions that will transport two lab modules to extend the 70-tonne station. China's space ambitions have been fueled in part by a US prohibition on its astronauts from participating in the International Space Station, a joint venture of the US, Russia, Canada, Europe, and Japan. The ISS is scheduled to be decommissioned in 2024. However, NASA has said that it may continue operational until 2028.