Two astronauts who completed China’s longest-ever manned space mission safely returned to Earth Friday afternoon.
Zhang Youxia, commander-in-chief of China’s manned space program, announced that the Tiangong-2 and Shenzhou-11 manned flight mission, which lasted just over a month, was a “complete success.”
CCTV’s Han Peng reports.
Shenzhou-11 astronauts safely return to EarthTwo astronauts who completed China’s longest-ever manned space mission safely returned to Earth Friday afternoon.
WATCH: The re-entry and landing sequence for the Shenzhou-11 astronauts
Shenzhou-11’s reentry module separated from the spacecraft’s orbiting capsule at 1:11 p.m. Friday Beijing Time, and then separated from the propelling capsule, ending the 33-day mission and embarking on the journey back to Earth.
The reentry module landed safely at a site in central Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region at about 1:59 p.m. The ground search team reached the landing site immediately, and astronauts Jing Haipeng and Chen Dong opened the capsule’s hatch by themselves.
The two astronauts were reported by the ground team to be in good condition. They arrived in Beijing Friday evening and will be quarantined and undergo medical check-ups.
The mission of Shenzhou-11 marked China’s sixth manned space flight. After its launch on Oct. 17, the spacecraft docked two days later with China’s first space lab, Tiangong-2, where the two astronauts lived for 30 days.
WATCH: The Shenzhou-11 astronauts are greeted in Beijing
The mission transported personnel and materials between Earth and Tiangong-2, and tested meeting, docking and return processes.
It conducted aerospace medical experiments, space science experiments and in-orbit maintenance.
WATCH this explainer of the Tiangong-2 space lab:
The two astronauts also conducted three experiments designed by middle school students from the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, including raising silkworms in space.
It was the third space mission for 50-year-old veteran Jing Haipeng, the commander of the crew, who also participated in the Shenzhou-7 and Shenzhou-9 missions. It was the first space mission for Chen Dong, 38.
Zhang Gaoli, vice premier and a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, delivered a congratulatory message from the CPC Central Committee, the State Council and the Central Military Commission at the command center of China’s manned space program in Beijing.
The completion of the Tiangong-2 and Shenzhou-11 mission “marked a major breakthrough” in China’s manned space program, according to the congratulatory message.
Their efforts to forge ahead and overcome challenges, as well as their collaboration and sacrifice, demonstrate confidence in the path, theory, system and culture of socialism with Chinese characteristics, it said. The mission is a key step toward China’s aim of building a permanent manned space station.
The core module of China’s space station is expected to be launched around 2018, and the space station will enter into full service around 2022, with an initial designed life of more than 10 years.
It will accommodate three to six astronauts, who will stay in space up to one year.
Story compiled with content from Xinhua and CCTV.
Jason Davis on Shenzhou-11 return to Earth
For more on Shenzhou-11 return to Earth, CCTV America’s Elaine Reyes spoke to Jason Davis, a journalist and digital editor for The Planetary Society.