Three Chinese astronauts, also known as taikonauts, returned safely to Earth yesterday after spending six months aboard China’s uncompleted Tiangong space station, according to a report by Space.com. This is China’s second manned mission after Tiangong and the longest to date.
The Shenzhou 13 spacecraft landed in the desert of Inner Mongolia at 9:56 a.m. local time on Saturday morning, having lifted off from the space station’s Tianhe core module about nine hours earlier. That The crew took off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the Gobi desert last October and spent a total of 183 days on the space station.
Not only is this mission China’s longest, but taikonaut Wang Yaping made history as the first Chinese woman to visit the Tianhe Space Station, and became the first Chinese woman to perform a spacewalk. Wang was accompanied by crew member Ye Guangfu and commander Zhai Zhigang. The trio conducted two spacewalks in total, conducted various tests around the station, and gave two live lectures to students watching from Earth.
Shenzhou 13 is part of China has planned 11 missions to complete the construction of the Tiangong space station. China started the Tianhe module first in April 2021 and later sent three taikonauts to bring the station online. As noted by Space.com, the Shenzhou 14 crew is scheduled to depart for the space station sometime in June. China plans to complete the station by the end of the year, which will include the launch of two additional modules.
While six months on board a space station sounds like a long time, this is the typical timeframe for missions to the International Space Station that exclude China. NASA astronaut Mark Van de Heiwho returned to Earth just last month currently holds the record for longest consecutive stay in space at 355 days.
https://www.theverge.com/2022/4/17/23029421/chinese-astronauts-return-earth-six-months-space-shenzhou-13-tiangong-tianhe-china Chinese astronauts return to Earth after six months in space