China Continues to Develop its Space Station
Last week, astronauts from China returned to Earth after spending six months aboard the country’s Tiangong space station. This is the country’s second crewed mission to its space station and its longest so far.
The Shenzhou 13 spacecraft landed in the inner Mongolia desert on April 16. Three Chinese astronauts, also known as taikonauts landed on Saturday morning after departing from Tiangong’s core Tianhe module about nine hours prior. They took off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the Gobi desert last October. Astronauts from China spent a total of 183 days on the space station.
This mission is the country’s longest. Furthermore, taikonaut Wang Yaping made history as the first Chinese woman to visit the Tianhe space station. Moreover, she became the first Chinese woman to conduct a spacewalk.
Apart from Wang Yaping, the crew consisted of Ye Guangfu and the commander Zhai Zhigang. They carried out a total of two spacewalks. Astronauts also performed various tests around the station. Chinese astronauts held two live lectures for students watching from Earth.
China and its space program
Shenzhou 13 is part of 11 missions the country has planned to finish constructing its space station. China launched the Tianhe module in April of 2021 and later sent three astronauts to bring the Tiangong space station online.
The country continues to develop its space station. The Shenzhou 14 crew is set to depart for the Tiangong space station sometime in June. China plans to finish its space station by the end of the year. Tiangong space station will include two additional modules.
Six months aboard a space station is not a record. It is the typical timeframe for missions to the International Space Station, which the People’s Republic of China is excluded from. NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei presently holds the American record for the longest consecutive stay in space at 355 days.