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Chinese astronauts return to Earth after 90 days aboard Tiangong space station

Posted at 5:07 AM, Sep 17, 2021

Three astronauts have returned to Earth after a 90-day stay aboard their nation's first space station in China's longest mission yet.

Nie Haisheng, Liu Boming and Tang Hongbo landed in the Shenzhou-12 spacecraft Friday, a day after they undocked from Tiangong, the Chinese-owned space station.

State broadcaster CCTV showed footage of the spacecraft parachuting to land in the Gobi Desert, where it was met by helicopters and off-road vehicles. Minutes later, a crew of technicians began opening the hatch of the capsule, which appeared undamaged.

While in space, astronauts went on spacewalks and deployed the space station's mechanical arm for experiments and projects.

China hasn't said when its next crew will be sent into space. According to Al Jazeera, China plans to fly three more crewed space missions by the end of 2022.

The mission represents the latest achievement in China's growing space program. According to the BBC, in 2019, China was the first country to send a robotic rover to the far side of the moon.