Three Chinese astronauts on Sunday returned safely to Earth on board the Shenzhou-15 manned spaceship after completing their six-month mission to build China’s space station.
Shenzhou-15’s return capsule carrying astronauts Fei Junlong, Deng Qingming and Zhang Lu, touched down at the Dongfeng landing site in north China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region at 6:33 am (Beijing Time), China Manned Space Agency (CMSA) said here.
The three completed their six-month space station mission, it announced.
The astronauts were in good shape, and the Shenzhou-15 manned mission was a success, the agency announced.
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The three were replaced by three other astronauts, including China’s first civilian who successfully flew to the space station on May 30.
The new set of astronauts will stay in the space station for five months.
Once ready, China will be the only country to own a space station as the International Space Station (ISS) of Russia is a collaborative project of several countries. The ISS station is also set to be decommissioned by 2030.
The significant feature of China’s space station is its two robotic arms, especially the long one which can grab objects, including satellites from space.
“We have completed all the scheduled tasks and felt good after returning to the motherland,” Fei, the mission commander, said.
Fei had also participated in the country’s second crewed space mission, Shenzhou-6, in October 2005.
Deng, who finally got the chance to fly to space after 25 years of preparation, said: “I always believe in the power of dreams and persistence. No matter how old I am, I feel so happy to be needed by the nation.”
“I’m now very excited, and when I was on the space station, I often watched through the window, trying to find my motherland and hometown,” Xinhua news agency quoted Zhang, one of China’s second batch of astronauts, as saying.
“We will adjust our bodies as soon as possible, go back into training, and be ready for space missions in the future,” Zhang added.
The return capsule separated from Shenzhou-15’s orbiting capsule at 5:42 am as per the flight procedure.
Soon after the return capsule landed, the ground search team arrived at the landing site. Medical personnel confirmed that the astronauts were in good health.
China launched the manned spaceship Shenzhou-15 on November 29, 2022.
The Shenzhou-15 crew, China’s oldest mission crew in terms of average age, completed four extravehicular activities (EVAs), accomplishing the most EVAs of all Chinese crews to date.
The crew witnessed the completion of the country’s space station construction, the Xinhua report said.