Chinese Astronauts Return To Earth After Six Months In Space

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Three Chinese astronauts landed in northern China on Saturday after 183 days in space, state broadcaster CCTV said, ending the country’s longest crewed space mission to date.

The two men and one woman – Zhai Zhigang, Ye Guangfu and Wang Yaping – landed safely in a small capsule shortly before 10am Beijing time (02:00 GMT) after spending six months on the Tianhe core module of China’s Tiangong space station.

“Shenzhou 13’s re-entry capsule successfully landed,” state broadcaster CCTV said.

Barred by the United States from participating in the International Space Station (ISS), China has spent the past 10 years developing technologies to build the Tiangong, the only space station other than the ISS.

Live footage from CCTV showed the capsule landing in a cloud of dust, with ground crew who had kept clear of the landing site rushing in helicopters to reach it.

There was applause as the astronauts each took turns to report that they were “feeling good”.

The Shenzhou-13 was the second of four crewed missions to assemble the Tiangong, which means “heavenly palace”.

Mission commander Zhai, 55, is a former fighter pilot who performed China’s first spacewalk in 2008, while Ye is a People’s Liberation Army pilot.

Astronauts will spend six months on the Chinese space station in future missions, according to state broadcaster CCTV.

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