Three Chinese return from a record in space

The three astronauts spent six months in the Chinese space station, during which China hopes to advance its space program and catch up with Europe, the United States and Russia.

It’s China’s longest stay in space: The three astronauts on the Shenzhou-13 mission returned to Earth on Saturday after six months on the Chinese space station.

This is another successful step for Beijing in its ambitious space program to catch up with the United States, Europe and Russia. After launching the red and white parachute, the return capsule whose crew was – made up of a woman and two men – landed shortly before 10:00 AM (02:00 GMT) in the desert of Inner Mongolia (Northern People’s Republic of China). China). “Shenzhou-13’s return capsule has landed successfully.”CCTV said. Live footage from surveillance cameras showed the capsule descending into a cloud of dust. Ground crews, moving away from the landing site, rushed helicopters to reach the capsule.

The ground crew applauded the astronauts, who took turns saying they felt “HassanThe crew was made up of three military pilots: Commander Zhai Zhigang (55), fellow pilot Wang Yaping (42) – who became the first Chinese woman to do a spacewalk in November – and the youngest Ye Guangfu (41), who had the first spaceflight. His Zhai Zhigang came out of the capsule first, about 45 minutes after landing.

The former fighter pilot, who conducted China’s first spacewalk in 2008, waved to cameras, grinning, as the ground crew lifted him, before being gathered into a blanket. “I am proud of our hero country”, he told CCTV. With a stay of 183 days in space, the crew broke the previous national record for a stay in space, which was 92 days set in 2021 during the previous manned mission, Shenzhou 12.

“The goal (with Shenzhou-13) was not in itself a record but to develop the skills necessary for the permanent occupation of the station”China’s ultimate goal, noted Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in the United States.

Mentioned in Chinese Tiangong (“Heavenly Palace) but is also known by the English acronym CSS (for “Chinese space stationIn French), it should be completed by the end of 2022. Similar to the former Russian Soviet Mir station, it should have a life span of about fifteen years.

location “my world»

Within six months, the crew carried out two spacewalks, continued building the station, led two online courses for Chinese schoolchildren, conducted experiments and refined their mastery for long-term stay. “For example, they improved their maintenance skills with spacewalking and robotic arm manipulation.” Station details AFP Chen Lan, an analyst for who specializes in China’s space program.

It wasn’t Shenzhou-13 eitherNot a significant hack” But “The completion of CSS later this year will be a very important eventThe next stages of construction: dispatch of a cargo ship in May and then another manned mission, Shenzhou-14, which is scheduled to launch in June.

The last two space station modules will be dispatched from July. And they will take the direction of space from the Wenchang launch center located on the tropical island of Hainan (south), which Chinese President Xi Jinping announced Thursday that he wants to make a site “my worldFrom Shenzhou-14, CSS has to be occupied permanently.

China has invested billions of euros in its space program for several decades, and sent its first astronaut into space in 2003. Since then, it has made some remarkable achievements, especially in recent years. At the beginning of 2019, a machine was placed on the far side of the moon, for the first time in the world. In 2020, it returned samples from the Moon and completed the BeiDou Navigation Satellite System, a competitor to the US Global Positioning System (GPS). In 2021, it has landed a small robot on Mars and plans to send men to the moon by 2030. China has been denied entry to the International Space Station since 2011, when the United States banned NASA from doing business with the Asian country.

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