Three Chinese taikonauts returned safely to Earth today after completing what officials described as a completely successful 15-day mission to the Tiangong-1 space station.
The reentry capsule of Shenzhou-10 landed safely in north China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region at 8:07 a.m.. All three astronauts were in good physical condition.
Nie Haisheng, commander of the Shenzhou-10 crew and a second-time space traveler, was the first to emerge out of the module, followed by Wang Yaping, the only female astronaut of the mission, and Zhang Xiaoguang.
China will continue to carry out development and construction of a space laboratory and plans to launch Tiangong-2 space lab around 2015, an aerospace official told a press conference Wednesday.
Wang Zhaoyao, director of China’s manned space program office, said the country plans to put in orbit an experimental core module of a space station around 2018 and complete the construction of a manned space station by 2020.
Meanwhile, a prominent Chinese space official has called for deeper cooperation on human spaceflight in the future.
China has long been pushing for international cooperation in manned space program under the principles of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit, as well as of transparency and opening, said Deng Yibing, director of China Astronaut Research and Training Center.
China is willing to explore new cooperation models in fields including astronaut training and joint flights and to further promote the cooperation and exchanges between Chinese astronauts and their international counterparts, Deng told a press briefing in Beijing.
“We believe that more extensive exchanges could help deepen understanding between us and establish a better basis for more concrete cooperation in the future,” he said.
Congress has banned NASA from undertaking any significant space cooperation with China. The Russians and Europeans are much more eager to cooperate with China, including bringing the country into the International Space Station partnership.