The three Shenzhou-13 astronauts aboard China’s space station will return to Earth soon after a national-record six-month mission in orbit, the China Manned Space Engineering Office (CMSEO) said on Thursday.
The Shenzhou-13 manned spacecraft will separate from the Tianhe core module of the space station at an appropriate time, landing at the Dongfeng landing site in northern China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. The crew members have been made ready for the separation, while the Dongfeng landing site and all systems involved are now making preparations for their return.
China launched the Shenzhou-13 mission on October 16, 2021, sending the three astronauts – Zhai Zhigang, Wang Yaping and Ye Guangfu – for a historic six-month stay in space. Once they return, the Shenzhou-13 crew will have achieved the longest-ever duration in the country’s manned space program.
During their 180-day trip, the trio has completed a slew of tasks, including two extravehicular activities, two livestreamed science lectures and more than 20 scientific experiments. The crew has also successfully completed the rendezvous and docking test between the Tianzhou-2 cargo spacecraft and China’s space station. Additionally, Wang Yaping became the first female Chinese astronaut to carry out extravehicular activities.
This year, China will launch two experimental modules, two manned spacecraft, two cargo spacecraft and send another six astronauts to the Chinese space station. Shenzhou-14 and Shenzhou-15 crew members will meet in orbit and will spend about one week in space together during their rotation.