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Chinese astronauts land on Earth after longest crewed space mission

Three Chinese astronauts returned to Earth on Saturday after spending 183 days in space, completing the country’s longest crewed space trip to date. The astronauts landed nine hours after leaving the main module of China’s first space station.

According to official media, the Shenzhou-13 mission crew took manual control of the Tianhe living quarters module while in orbit for a docking experiment with the Tianzhou-2 cargo spaceship. The astronauts – Zhai Zhigang, Ye Guangfu and a female crew member Wang Yaping – spent 183 days in space after their launch in October, completing the fifth of 11 missions required to complete the space station by the end of the year.

Shenzhou-13 was the second of four crewed flights slated to finish the construction of the space station, which began in April. In September, Shenzhou-12 returned to Earth.

China’s next two missions will be the cargo spacecraft Tianzhou-4 and the three-person Shenzhou-14 mission, according to Shao Limin, deputy technical manager of the Manned Spaceship System.

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China has spent the past decade developing technology to build its own space station, the only one in the world other than the ISS, after being barred from participation in the International Space Station (ISS) in orbit by the United States.

China has successfully launched probes to investigate Mars and become the first country to land a spacecraft on the far side of the Moon, with the goal of becoming a space power by 2030.


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