Chinese Astronauts Return to Earth After Six Months in Space

Shenzhou-13 lands in the Gobi Desert. (Credit: CASC)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Three Chinese astronauts returned to Earth in their Shenzhou-13 spacecraft on Saturday after spending six months aboard the nation’s first permanent space station.

Zhai Zhigang, Ye Guangfu and Wang Yaping landed in the Gobi Desert after 182 days in space. It was the longest Chinese crewed mission to date, nearly doubling the three months the crew of Shezhou-12 spent aboard the space station launched last April.

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Tianzhou-2 Cargo Ship Departs China’s Tiangong Space Station

The Tianzhou-2 cargo ship departed the Tianhe core module of China’s space station on Sunday after 10 months in space, the Xinhua news agency reported. Controllers plan to send the vehicle to burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere at an unspecified time.

Tianzhou-2 was launched with 6.6 metric tons of supplies and fuel from Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Site on May 29, 2021. The vehicle was the first cargo ship sent to China’s first permanent space station.

Tianzhou-2 carried 6,640 kg (14,639 lb) of cargo to the station, including 4,690 kg (10,340 lb) of pressurized cargo and 1,950 kg (4,299 lb) of fuel. The module measures 10.6 m x 3.35 m (34.8 ft x 11 ft) and has two solar panels.

Tianzhou-2 was originally docked to Tiangong’s aft docking port. Last September, the vehicle was moved to the forward docking port after the station’s first crew returned to Earth aboard the Shenzhou 12 spacecraft. In January, the crew of Shenzhou 13 crew tested Tiangong’s robotic by moving Tianzhou-2 to and from a radial docking port.

The Tianzhou-3 cargo ship remains docked to the space station. The Shenzhou-13 crew — Zhai Zhigang, Wang Yaping, Ye Guangfu — are set to return to Earth next month after approximately six months in space. The launches of the Tianzhou-4 cargo ship and Shenzhou-14 crew ship are scheduled for May.

First Spacewalk by a Female Chinese Astronaut

Wang Yaping (Credit: China News Service, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=110984412)

Wang Yaping became the first female Chinese astronaut to make a spacewalk on Monday. She and mission command Zhai Zhigang spent 6.5 hours outside the Tianhe core module of the Tiangong space station, the Xinhua news agency reported.

The astronauts tested the Chinese-developed next-generation spacesuits, worked with the station’s robotic arm, and evaluated the reliability and safety of the support equipment.

Zhai made his first spacewalk in 13 years. On 27 September 2008, he became he first Chinese astronaut to walk in space during the three-day Shenzhou-7 mission.

It was the first spacewalk by the three-member Shenzhou-13 crew, which arrived at the space station for a six-month stay on Oct. 15. The crew, which includes Ye Guangfu, will return to Earth in April.

The Shenzhou-12 crew conducted two spacewalks during a 92-day long mission that ended on Sept. 17.

Three Chinese Astronauts on Way Home From 3 Month Stay Aboard Tiangong Space Station

The Shenzhou-12 capsule with the Tang Hongbo, Nie Haisheng and Liu Boming aboard has already separated from the Tiangong space station. The flight home to a landing near the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center will reportedly take 30 hours.

The three astronauts were the first crew to occupy China’s first permanent space station. A new supply ship that will automatically dock with Tiangong has been placed on the launch pad for a flight later this month. A new crew will fly to the station in October.

NASA, Roscosmos Congratulate China on Crewed Launch

Bill Nelson

NASA and Roscosmos sent congratulations to the China National Space Administration for its launch of three astronauts on Shenzhou-12 to the nation’s first permanent space station on Thursday.

NASA

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson released the following statement Thursday regarding the China National Space Agency’s launch of the first crew to its Tiangong space station:

“Congratulations to China on the successful launch of crew to their space station! I look forward to the scientific discoveries to come.”

Roscosmos

Roscosmos sends sincere congratulations to China on the successful launch of three taikonauts on the Shenzhou 12 crewed spacecraft to the new Chinese Tianhe space station.

The Chinese space technologies are developing actively, and another success in China’s crewed space program is just a further proof to that!

China has made another confident step forward and together we can achieve even more! As was previously announced, together we will jointly develop the new International Lunar Research Station. Russia and China will become lasting and reliable partners in long-term colonization of near-Earth and outer space.

Three Chinese Astronauts Launch for First Occupation of New Space Station

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Three Chinese astronauts launched into orbit on Thursday morning local time for a three-month mission to the nation’s first permanent space station. It will be the longest human space mission in Chinese history, and the country’s first crewed fight in nearly five years.

The mission is commanded by Nie Haisheng, 56, who has logged more than 19 days in space on two previous flights. Nie, who is a major general in the People’s Liberation Army Air Force, was joined by Liu Boming, 54, who will be flying to space for the second time, and rookie astronaut Tang Hongbo, 45.

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China to Launch Crew to First Permanent Space Station on Thursday

Shenzhou-12 crew members Tang Hongbo, Nie Haisheng and Liu Boming. (Credit: CNSA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Three astronauts will launch on Thursday morning local time aboard the Shenzhou-12 spacecraft for a three-month long mission to China’s first permanent space station. It will be the longest human space mission in Chinese history, and the country’s first crewed fight in nearly five years.

Launch of the crew aboard a Long March 2F rocket from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center is scheduled for June 17 at 0122 UTC (June 16 at 9:22 p.m. EDT).

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China Launches Core Module of First Permanent Space Station

Long March 5B launches the Tianhe space station core module on April 29, 2021. (Credit: CASC)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The International Space Station (ISS) is no longer the only human outpost in Earth orbit.

China successfully launched the Tianhe core module core module of its first permanent space station aboard a Long March 5B rocket from the Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Site on Thursday.

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Move Over ISS, China’s New Space Station is Launching Soon

Artist’s conception of China’s Tianhe-1 space station. (Credit: China Manned Space Engineering)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

In a few short weeks, the International Space Station (ISS) will no longer be the only station in Earth orbit.

China plans to launch the Tianhe core module core module of its first permanent space station aboard a Long March 5B rocket from the Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Site. Spaceflight Now‘s launch calendar has the flight taking place on April 29.

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