Two Chinese astronauts returned to Earth safely on Friday after completing China’s longest-ever manned space mission as the country firmed up its plans to establish its permanent space station by 2022.
Zhang Youxia, commander-in-chief of China’s manned space programme, announced that the Shenzhou-11 mission, which lasted over a month, was a “complete success.”
The re-entry module of Shenzhou-11 landed safely at the expected site in central Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region at about 1:59 pm Beijing Time, Beijing Aerospace Control Center (BACC) said.
The ground search team reached the landing site immediately, and astronauts Jing Haipeng and Chen Dong opened the capsule’s hatch by themselves. The two astronauts were reported by the ground team to be in good condition.
Shenzhou-11 was China’s sixth manned spacecraft, and also the country’s longest mission to date. It conducted aerospace medical experiments, space science experiments and in-orbit maintenance.
The rigorous testing helps China to firm up its plans to establish its permanent space station by 2022. By the time it will be the only the country to have such a facility in service as the current in-service International Space Station (ISS) retires by 2024.