Three Chinese language astronauts landed Sunday after 182 days on China’s Tiangong house station, finishing the busiest mission but for the nation’s human spaceflight program. The astronauts carried out three spacewalks and assisted within the arrival and outfitting of two new lab modules on the Tiangong outpost.
The Shenzhou 14 crew capsule landed beneath a parachute within the Internal Mongolia area of northwestern China at 7:09 a.m. EST Friday (1209 GMT) Sunday, about 9 hours after undocking from the Tiangong house station about 240 miles (390 kilometers) above Earth.
The spacecraft introduced dwelling commander Chen Dong and astronauts Liu Yang and Cai Xuzhe to the distant Dongfeng touchdown zone within the Gobi Desert, the place touchdown occurred in darkness. Chinese language restoration groups converged on the crew capsule, which landed on its aspect, to open the hatch and assist the astronauts out of the spacecraft.
Staff members carried every of the astronauts to a chair close to the capsule for temporary remarks on Chinese language state tv, then carried them to close by autos for medical checks because the astronauts re-acclimate to gravity after six months in orbit. An plane later flew the astronauts to Beijing to be reunited with their households.
In response to the China Manned Area Company, the astronauts have been in “good well being” following the touchdown.
Shenzhou 14 is again on Earth with Chen Dong, Liu Yang, and Cai Xuzhe after 182 days in orbit.
They oversaw the enlargement of China’s house station with the arrival of two giant new lab modules.
An infrared view exhibits the flash of the touchdown thrusters.https://t.co/xh1AZagPdo pic.twitter.com/H7zbTcDCon
— Spaceflight Now (@SpaceflightNow) December 4, 2022
The Shenzhou 14 spacecraft undocked from the nadir, or Earth-facing, port on the Tiangong house station’s Tianhe core module at 10:01 p.m. EST Saturday (0301 GMT Sunday) to start the roughly nine-hour flight again to Earth.
The undocking ended 5 days of joint operations on the house station with the three-man Shenzhou 15 crew, which launched and docked on the advanced Nov. 29. It was the primary time six Chinese language astronauts have been in orbit on the identical time, and marked the primary crew handover on-board the Tiangong house station. The on-board crew handovers will turn out to be a daily prevalence each six months by means of the lifetime of the Tiangong advanced, permitting China to keep up a continuing human presence in low Earth orbit.
Multinational crews have constantly lived and labored on the Worldwide Area Station since 2000.
The Shenzhou 14 astronauts have been current on the Tiangong house station for the arrival of two main new modules — the Wentian and Mengtian laboratories — that tripled the dimensions of the outpost. China launched the Wentian science lab July 24, then the Mengtian module Oct. 31. The modules initially docked with the ahead port of the station’s Tianhe core module, then have been moved to radial ports utilizing a robotic arm to provide the Tiangong outpost a particular “T” form.
The astronauts additionally carried out three spacewalks to outfit the Tiangong house station and put together it for regular operations, and have been aboard the advanced for the docking of the the unpiloted Tianzhou 5 cargo ship to the house station Nov. 12.
“They witnessed many historic moments of China’s manned spaceflights,” mentioned Ji Qiming, assistant to the director of the China Manned Area Company.
The Shenzhou 14 mission launched June 4 (U.S. time) and docked with the Tianhe core module about seven hours later. They changed the Shenzhou 13 crew, which departed the Tiangong station in April after six months in orbit.
After departing the Tiangong station, the Shenzhou 14 spacecraft fired thrusters to maneuver a protected distance from the house station, then jettisoned its orbital habitation module, which is able to stay in orbit till aerodynamic drag pulls it again into the ambiance. The ship’s engines then fired for a deorbit burn to decelerate for re-entry, then Shenzhou’s propulsion module separated, leaving the touchdown capsule to convey the three astronauts again to Earth.
The re-entry capsule, protected by a warmth protect, encountered temperatures of a number of hundreds levels. After a short build-up in G forces, the spacecraft deployed an almost 13,000-square-foot (1,200-square meter) predominant parachute to gradual its descent for landing on the Dongfeng touchdown website.
Mushy touchdown rockets ignited simply earlier than landing to cushion the influence for the three astronauts.
The Shenzhou 14 touchdown craft appeared to undergo one anomaly after touchdown, when the capsule didn’t launch its predominant parachute line. Earlier Chinese language spacecraft have severed the parachute line simply after landing to maintain the capsule from being dragged throughout the bottom by wind. The restoration crew on the touchdown website was seen slicing the parachute line with a knife in a stay broadcast on Chinese language state tv.
Chen Dong, the Shenzhou 14 commander, accomplished its second mission to house. He has logged 214 days in orbit, greater than every other Chinese language astronaut. Liu Yang, who turned the primary Chinese language lady in house in 2012, additionally closed out her second spaceflight. Shenzhou 14 was the primary house mission for Cai Xuzhe.
All three astronauts are former Chinese language Air Power pilots.
Briefly remarks after touchdown, Liu mentioned she is “very comfortable to see my relations and in addition my mates. China’s house station will at all times meet your expectations.”
“For six months, I actually skilled this superb view,” Cai mentioned. “And I hope I come again to our dwelling in house sooner or later.”
Shenzhou 14 was the ninth crewed spaceflight in China’s house program, and the third crew mission to China’s new Tiangong house station.
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Observe Stephen Clark on Twitter: @StephenClark1.
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