Chinese taikonauts back on Earth after space mission

Chinese taikonauts back on Earth after space mission

Three Chinese taikonauts have landed back on Earth after setting a Chinese record for time spent in space.

The capsule with female astronaut Wang Yaping and her two male colleagues Zhai Zhigang and Ye Guangfu landed in the Gobi desert in the north-west of the country on Saturday morning.

The landing was broadcast live on Chinese state television.

In total, the return flight from the space station, which is orbiting around 400 kilometres above the earth, took just over nine hours.

The crew of “Shenzhou 13” (Magic Ship) had been in space for six months, longer than other Chinese astronauts before them – almost twice as long as the previous Chinese record set last year.

The three-person crew set off on their current mission on October 16.

In their time aloft, the three astronauts – called taikonauts in China – went on two spacewalks, carried out a whole series of scientific experiments and prepared the further expansion of the space station known as “Tiangong” (Heaven’s Palace).

Wang Yaping was not only the first female astronaut to be on board the core module called “Tianhe” (Celestial Harmony), but also the first to undertake a spacewalk.

In the next phase, a cargo flight is planned for next month to carry materials and fuel into space for the Shenzhou 14 flight expected in June.

Two more modules for the main part of the future space station are to be launched into space later this year.