China’s first astronaut crew to spend a record-setting six months aboard the country’s new space station returns to Earth tonight and you can watch it live online.
The three-person crew of China’s Shenzhou 13 mission to the Tiangong space station will land tonight (April 15) during a four-hour window that opens at 8 p.m. EDT (0000 April 16 GMT) with an expected landing near Dongfeng in the Gobi Desert in Inner Mongolia. You can watch the video in the window above, courtesy of China’s state-run CCTV news agency.
Returning home on the Shenzhou 13 spacecraft will be mission commander Zhai Zhigang and crewmates Wang Yaping and Ye Guangfu. Shenzhou 13 undocked from the station today at 12:44 p.m. EDT (1644 GMT), according an update from the China Manned Space Engineering branch of the China National Space Administration.
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Zhai and Wang are veteran astronauts, while Ye is on his first spaceflight. The trio launched to the Tiangong station’s core module, called Tianhe, on Oct. 15 and will have spent 183 days in space by the end of their flight.
The Shenzhou 13 mission is China’s longest-ever trip to the Tiangong space station (the Shenzhou 12 mission lasted 92 days), with Wang being the first woman visit the orbiting lab. Wang is also China’s first woman to perform a spacewalk, a feat she achieved last November as she and Zhai worked outside.
During their mission, the Shenzhou 13 crew performed docking tests and two spacewalks to outfit the new space station. They also participated in more than 20 science experiments on a variety of subjects, including life sciences and the effects of prolonged spaceflight on the human body.
The crew also delivered two science lectures to students on Earth and were also China’s first astronauts to celebrate the Lunar New Year in space.