According to official media, three Chinese astronauts returned to Earth on Saturday after spending 183 days in space, completing the country’s longest crewed space mission to date.
Nine hours after leaving a main module of China’s first space station, the Chinese astronauts landed. The Shenzhou-13 mission crew assumed physical control of the Tianhe living quarters module while in orbit for a “docking experiment” with the Tianzhou-2 cargo spaceship, according to official media.
The astronauts – Zhai Zhigang, Ye Guangfu, and a female crew member, Wang Yaping – spent 183 days in space after their launch in October, completing the fifth of 11 missions required to complete the space station by the end of the year.
Shenzhou-13 was the second of four astronauts flights slated to finish the space station’s construction, which began in April. In September, Shenzhou-12 returned to Earth.
China‘s next two missions will be the cargo spacecraft Tianzhou-4 and the three-person Shenzhou-14 mission, according to Shao Limin, deputy technical manager of the Manned Spaceship System.
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