The three Chinese astronauts are expected to return home on Friday after two spacewalks and establish a new national record for the longest crewed space flight mission.
Astronauts Nie Haisheng (commander), Liu Boming and Tang Hongbo spent 90 days aboard China’s Tianhe module of the space station since arriving aboard Shenzhou 12 on June 17. Closure of airspace opinion issued Wednesday indicate that the crew will return between 1:14 a.m. and 1:44 a.m. EDT (0514-0544 GMT or 1:14 p.m. – 1:44 p.m. local time) on Friday (September 17).
The disembarkation will take place, for the first time, near Dongfeng, in the Gobi Desert in Inner Mongolia. The landing zone is close to the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center from which China’s human spaceflight missions are launched. Previous Shenzhou landings targeted the Siziwang (Dorbod Banner) grasslands, also in Inner Mongolia. The teams performed search and rescue exercises at the Dongfeng landing site for at least the past week, according to media reports.
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While in orbit, the Shenzhou 12 astronauts performed two extravehicular activities (EVAs), or spacewalks, to prepare Tianhe for future arrivals, performed a series of experiments, and returned breathtaking images of the earth.
There are still a few tasks. Before returning home, the Shenzhou 12 astronauts will circle Tianhe in their capsule and test a radial rendezvous, undocking from the module and approaching Tianhe from below, rather than along its path. flight.
Tianhe will however receive a new visitor very soon. The Tianzhou 3 the cargo spacecraft is expected to launch from Wenchang in southern China around September 20. Tianzhou 3 will provide supplies for the next crewed mission to the station, Shenzhou 13, which is expected to launch from Jiuquan in October.
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