Chinese astronauts return to Earth after 90 days of space mission

After a stay of 90 days on board From the Tianhe module of China’s new space station, taikonauts Nie Haisheng, Liu Boming and Tang Hongbo have just left the facility to return to Earth. They boarded the Shenzhou ship 12 during the Thursday morning (13) and should land on the interior of Mongolia after 30 hours of travel.

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    The state broadcaster CCTV aired images of the crew carrying luggage to the spacecraft and, before departing from the module, they downloaded the data obtained from the experiments in orbit. Afterwards, the spacecraft traveled around the Tianhe module and performed a maneuver test in which, instead of re-docking, it tested sensors and guidance systems to measure accuracy and determine variables such as different lighting conditions when approaching the module underneath it with respect to Earth, rather than following the flight path.

    #Shenzhou11 detached from #Tiangong space station and completed the radial rendezvous test at UTC 11: 39 on Sept 16. Three astronauts Nie Haisheng, Liu Boming, and Tang Hongbo are about to return to earth on Sept. after their 90+days mission. https://t.co/EOh17EVKL5 pic.twitter.com /hr12pinClG

    — CNSA Watcher (@CNSAWatcher) September 17, 504159

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    They should land on Earth this Friday (17) somewhere in the Gobi Desert, near the Satellite Launch Center of Jiuquan, the location from which Chinese manned space missions are launched.

    The Tianhe module, the first of three that will form the Tiangong-3 station, was launched in April. The trio of taikonauts arrived at Tianhe in June and, during the 90 days of mission, they carried out scientific experiments , tech checks, spacewalks and other activities. This was the longest manned space mission by China to date.

    What comes next

    While the crew of Shenzhou-12 comes back home, China is preparing to launch the Tianzhou-3 mission, the second that will carry cargoes to the station. The launch date has not yet been confirmed, but local traffic restrictions seem to indicate that the mission should be launched on the day 20 September, taking supplies, equipment and propellant to the Tianhe module.

    The Long March 7 rocket being transferred to the platform to launch the Tianzhou-3 (Image: Reproduction/CMSA)

    Tianzhou-3 will be the fourth mission out of a total of carried out for the construction of the Tiangong-3 station, which should receive the new Wengtian and Mengtian modules in 2022. These components will allow scientific experiments to be carried out in areas such as science, biotechnology, physics, microgravity, among others. So, the idea is that the Tianzhou-3 mission will leave the facility stocked for the Shenzhou crew-13, the Asian country’s next manned mission. new trios of astronauts are sent on 90 day missions at the station over the next two years, until make it fully operational. Although there is still no information about who will be the taikonauts of the new mission, it will also have three crew members, who, unlike those from Shenzhou-12, must spend six months in the season. The next manned launch is due in October.

    Source: Phys.org, Space.com, SpaceNews

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