After spending six months in orbit aboard the Tiangong space station, the three astronauts on China’s Shenzhou 13 mission are preparing to return to Earth.
Zhai Zhigang, Wang Yaping and Ye Guangfu blasted off from Jiuquan in the Gobi Desert on October 15, 2021, docking at the Chinese space station still under construction hours later.
Since then, the trio have conducted two extravehicular activities, also known as spacewalks – and have conducted more than 20 science experiments during their time in orbit.
On Friday (1), they completed 167 days in space aboard the Tianhe core module, and are expected to complete their mission later this month, about 180 days. But before leaving, the trio will prepare Tianhe for the arrival of its next crew, the astronauts on the Shenzhou 14 mission.
“Before departure, there are many materials that need sorting, including those packages and products in Tianzhou 3,” Zhong Weiwei, a research associate at the China Astronaut Center, told China Central Television (CCTV), referring to a spacecraft. A shipment was launched to the Chinese space station in September.
“The Shenzhou 14 crew will come more than a month after the Shenzhou 13 crew will return, so these products and equipment should be put on site in advance,” Zhong said, adding that many important samples should be taken. outer space.
While China has yet to announce when the crew will return to Earth, Zhou Jianping, the chief designer of the country’s manned spaceflight program, told Chinese media in early March that they would return home in mid-April.
Tycoon pioneers give lectures to highlight China’s progress and inspire students’ interest in science
Shenzhous Mission 13 identified a number of Chinese records. The country’s previous national record for the duration of manned spaceflight was set by the Shenzhou 12 mission last year, which lasted 92 days. Wang became the first female astronaut aboard Tianhe and the first Chinese woman to undertake a spacewalk.
In addition, the crew hosted educational lectures live from space. Molly Silk, a doctoral student in Chinese space policy at the University of Manchester in England, said in an interview with the site. space.com The live science lectures aim to highlight China’s progress and arouse interest in science.
“A real-time interactive event featuring Chinese astronauts highlights the reality of the country’s technological achievements and showcases the capabilities and utility of its space program,” Silk said. “An event like this increases national pride and encourages young citizens to pursue careers in science.”
These live lectures target students from provinces and remote areas of the country, including Hong Kong, Macao, Tibet and Xinjiang.
The space station and astronauts also participated in the celebrations of the Solar New Year and Lunar New Year, noting that China now has its permanent presence in orbit, as well as the International Space Station (ISS).
Meanwhile, the crew continues preparations to return to Earth, including a routine exercise. “Based on the data obtained from his body in orbit, we made targeted modifications to the entire protection plan prior to his return. In fact, the goal at this point is to ensure that the astronauts’ physical exercise prepares them to land and return safely.”
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