Three Chinese astronauts have returned safely from space following a three-month stay at the new Tiangong space station which is currently under construction. Tang Hongbo, Nie Haisheng, and Liu Boming landed on Friday, September 18. This marks the longest ever crewed space mission for China at 92 days, far exceeding the previous record of the Shenzhou 11 mission in 2016 which lasted for 33 days.
The astronauts are safe and well and in good physical condition, according to the China Manned Space Agency, which described the mission overall as “a complete success.” Having landed at the Dongfeng landing site, the astronauts have since been transferred to Beijing where they arrived by plane on Friday night.
“Three Chinese astronauts, the first sent to orbit for space station construction, have completed their three-month mission and returned to Earth safely on Friday,” Chinese state news agency Xinhua wrote in a brief statement. “The return capsule of the Shenzhou-12 manned spaceship, carrying astronauts Nie Haisheng, Liu Boming, and Tang Hongbo, touched down at the Dongfeng landing site in north China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, according to the China Manned Space Agency (CMSA).”
The astronauts spent three months in space under the Shenzhou-12 mission, working on China’s new space station. The first module of the new Tiangong space station was launched in April this year, weighing 22 tons and coming in at around the size of a five-story building. A first cargo mission to the new station was completed in May, in preparation for the first astronauts arriving there.
The three astronauts then launched in June, marking China’s first crewed space mission in five years. During their time on the station, they performed two spacewalks to install equipment on the outside of the structure and carried out scientific experiments.
This was the first of four planned crewed missions to the station during its construction period, with aims to have it completed by 2022.