Three astronauts return on Friday after completing China’s longest space mission.
The astronauts spent 90 days on the Tianhi module on China’s space station, 380 km from Earth.
On June 17, Nei Heisheng, Liu Booming and Tang Honbo went aboard the Shenzhou-12 spacecraft. They returned at 1.30pm on Friday in a capsule in the Gobi Desert in Mongolia.
The Shenzhou-12 mission was the first phase of a larger mission to establish a permanent space station. It is an 11-stage mission, including the launch of three modules for the station.
Construction of the space station began in April with the launch of the Tianhe module.
Slightly larger than a city bus, you, Liu, and Tang have been traveling in Tianhe since mid-June. Shenzhou-12 was China’s longest space mission.
The construction of the space station is expected to be completed by 2022. China’s unfinished space station is the only alternative to the 20 – year – old US ISS space station. The ISS will expire in 2024.