MADRID, 17 (EUROPA PRESS)
Three Chinese taikonauts returned to Earth on September 17 after completing three months of work in the Tianhe module of the Chinese space station, Tiangong, under construction.
The return capsule of the Shenzhou 12 spacecraft was slowed down in its descent by a large parachute and finally landed in the Gobi desert in the north of the country. China has declared the mission a complete success.
Nie Haisheng, Liu Boming, and Tang Hongbo lifted off from Earth on June 17 and spent three months in space, a record for Chinese space travelers. The taikonauts, as Chinese astronauts are known, will undergo a 14-day quarantine before they can return home “because their immune systems may have weakened after the long mission,” Huang Weifen, chief designer of the China’s manned space project.
They spent most of their journey on the Tiangong space station, which is under construction and so far consists of only the central Tianhe module. It is scheduled to be completed in 2022, and China plans to send two more heavy modules, each weighing about 20 tons, into space by then.
As scheduled, the Tianzhou-3 cargo ship and the Shenzhou-13 manned spacecraft will launch later this year to dock with the Tianhe module, and another trio of astronauts will remain in orbit for six months.
By 2022, China is planning an offensive of space missions, including the launch of the Wentian and Mengtian laboratory modules, two cargo spacecraft and two manned spacecraft, for the Tiangong construction, to be completed next year.