Today, September 17, at about 13:30, three Chinese astronauts landed in good physical condition after a historic 3-month mission to the new space station. The arrival brings an end to the historic Shenzhou 12 mission.
The Shenzhou 12 mission was launched on June 16, commanded by Nie and the three Chinese astronauts who went for the historic Shenzhou 12 mission were Tang Hongbo, Nie Haisheng, and Liu Boxing. The astronauts spent 90 days aboard Tianhe, staying aloft about three times longer than any previous Chinese crewed spaceflight.
According to reports, the three astronauts wanted to eat the most after returning to Earth. Nie Haisheng most wanted to eat noodles from Xiangyang, Liu Boming most wanted to eat the beans in his hometown, and Tang Hongbo wanted to eat watermelon most.
The Shenzhou 12 crew took some incredible images of Earth and conducted a range of scientific experiments during their time in orbit. They also took two spacewalks to assist get the 54-foot-long Tianhe fully operational and ready for future trips, which are expected to be frequent in the coming months.
China also aims to launch two more modules into orbit, which would join Tianhe to form Tiangong, a three-piece space station that will be almost 20% larger than the International Space Station (ISS). The orbital outpost’s construction is slated to be completed next year.
According to a statement released by the China Manned Space Engineering Office (CMSEO), Shenzhou 12’s return to Earth was a multiday affair. The spacecraft detached from Tianhe Wednesday (Sept. 15) at 8:56 p.m. EDT (0056 GMT on Sept. 16).
In another official update by CMSEO, the Shenzhou 12 was completed by 1:38 a.m. EDT (0538 GMT) Thursday (Sept. 16).