Shenzhou-13 astronauts return to Earth after 182-day mission

(ORDO NEWS) — The three astronauts returned safely to Earth on April 16 after a record 182 days in orbit, completing the second crewed flight of the Chinese space station.

Commander Zhai Zhigang and his colleagues Wang Yaping and Ye Guangfu landed at the Dongfeng Landing Zone at 9:56 am local time, a few hours after leaving the Tianhe space station module.

The landing took place about 80 kilometers from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, from where the trio took off on a Long March 2F rocket in October.

The astronauts spent six months aboard the Tianhe, the main module of China’s space station under construction.

They conducted a pair of extravehicular flights for a total of 12 hours and 36 minutes, performed a number of scientific experiments and technological tests, and gave scientific lectures to students on Earth.

Shenzhou 13 undocked from Tianhe at 12:44. The Beijing Aerospace Mission Control Center at 21:06 p.m. commanded the separation of the Shenzhou-13 return module from the orbital module.

For the first time, China has applied “fast return”, reducing the number of orbits after leaving Tianhe from 11 to five. Landing occurred nine hours after undocking.

Search and rescue teams reached the landing site shortly after the capsule touched down.

After exiting the capsule, Zhai said, “I would like to inform the homeland and people that we have successfully completed the Shenzhou-13 space flight mission.”

Wang, the first woman aboard the space station and the first Chinese woman to perform a spacewalk, little daughter that “her star-collecting mom is back”, referring to a promise made before the flight that she would bring a star for her child.

“At this moment, I fulfilled my dream of flying into space and I can proudly announce my return back to their homeland,” Ye said. Each cosmonaut mentioned their homeland, President Xi Jinping, and the ruling Communist Party in their statements after landing.

“In the future, we will always strive for better achievements in line with the call of the Party and the people, and live in line with the times and the great trust of the Party and the people,” Ye said.

The crew then proceeded to Beijing, where they arrived at 10:06 GMT on Saturday morning.

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