China's Shenzhou-13 crew to return home soon from space station
Updated 10:32, 15-Apr-2022

The three Shenzhou-13 astronauts aboard China's space station will return to Earth soon after a national-record six-month mission in orbit, according to the China Manned Space Engineering Office (CMSEO).

The Shenzhou-13 manned spacecraft, which has completed all its scheduled tasks, will separate from the Tianhe core module of the space station at an appropriate time and land at Dongfeng landing site in north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, the CMSEO announced on Thursday.

The crew members, Zhai Zhigang, Wang Yaping and Ye Guangfu, have been ready for the separation. They have collected research items, packed their own stuff and prepared the space station for the arrival of its next crew.

The Dongfeng landing site and all systems involved are making preparations for the return of the astronauts, the CMSEO said.

China launched the Shenzhou-13 mission on October 16, 2021, sending the three astronauts for a historic six-month stay in space – the longest-ever duration in the country's manned space program.

During their trip, the trio has completed a slew of tasks, including two extravehicular activities, two livestreamed science lectures and more than 20 scientific experiments. 

The Shenzhou-13 mission is the second manned mission for the assembly of China's space station, following last year's Shenzhou-12 mission that lasted three months from June 17 to September 17.

With the completion of the Shenzhou-13 mission, the "technology verification phase" of the space station project will be completed. 

According to China's plan, there will be two more crewed missions to build the space station, with more unmanned missions to send cargo ships and additional modules for installation.

The Long March-7 Y5 carrier rocket, which will be used to launch the Tianzhou-4 cargo vessel, has arrived at the launch site in Hainan Province on Monday.

Read more: What to expect from China Space Station in 2022

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