China gets closer to realising permanent space station dream

China astronaut trio lands back on Earth after 6 months in space

Ending China’s longest crewed mission to space, three Chinese astronauts have returned to the Earth. The three astronauts had spent 183 days in space. The Shenzhou-13 spacecraft, which was the Asian nation’s latest mission as part of its bid to outperform the United States, has proven to be a major leap for China in its space programme.

China has been effectively trying to outdo the US space programmes, and earlier it had tried to rival the Americans by doing much more than what the US did in space. A case in point is sending a rover on Mars and probes to the Moon.

The three astronauts landed back on earth on Saturday. The crew included two men and one woman. The Chinese astronauts Zhai Zhigang, Ye Guangfu and Wang Yaping had spent six months aboard the Tianhe core module of China’s Tiangong space station, said a report. The three were reportedly in good physical condition.

Astronaut trio had been launched to space in October

The trio had been launched into space aboard the Shenzhou-13 from the Gobi Desert, during last October. Theirs was the second of the four crewed missions sent to pace during 2021-2022. Their mission was to help assemble China’s first ever permanent space station, which the country has fondly named Tiangong, which when translated means “heavenly palace.”

For astronaut Wang Yaping, the mission had brought in more laurels as she became the first Chinese woman to spacewalk. It was during November last that she and fellow astronaut Zhai Zhigang installed the space station equipment which took six hours to complete. Meanwhile, Zhai, the Mission Commander, had performed China’s first spacewalk in 2008. Zhai is a former fighter pilot, and Ye Guangfu, the third astronaut, is a People’s Liberation Army pilot.

After the three astronauts were launched into space in October last, the trio completed two spacewalks, and have carried out numerous scientific experiments. They also were able to successfully set up equipment and test technologies for future construction. Before their return, they spent a few weeks to clean up and keep ready the cabin facilities for the next set of astronauts who are to be launched into space as part of the ongoing mission. The next trio of Chinese astronauts will be ready to get on board the Shenzhou-14 spacecraft, which is likely to be launched in a few months’ time.

China building permanently-crewed space station

It is China’s dream to set up a permanently crewed space station by 2022. The country also is working on sending man to the Moon. It has been reported that China is also looking to build a base on the Moon. The Chinese National Space Administration is said to be working towards the launch of a crewed lunar mission by year 2029. The Asian country’s bid to be all powerful in its space programme looks like heading for a leap in the years to come.

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