Three Chinese astronauts landed back on Earth on after a six month stint on the country’s space station on Saturday, marking the end of the longest crewed mission to date for China’s burgeoning space program, reports Nikkei Asia. The Shenzhou 13 space capsule landed in the Gobi desert in the northern region of Inner Mongolia, shown live on state TV.
During the mission, astronaut Wang Yaping carried out the first spacewalk by a Chinese woman. Wang and crewmates Zhai Zhigang and Ye Guangfu beamed back physics lessons for high school students. China launched its first astronaut into space in 2003 and landed robot rovers on the moon in 2013 and on Mars last year. Officials have discussed a possible crewed mission to the moon.
On Saturday, state TV showed images from inside the capsule as it traveled at 200 meters per second over Africa before entering the atmosphere. The trio were the second crew aboard Tiangong, or Heavenly Palace. Its core module, Tianhe, was launched in April 2021. Plans call for completing construction this year by adding two more modules.