This is another successful step for Beijing in its ambitious space program to catch up with the United States, Europe and Russia.
After triggering its red and white parachute, the return capsule where the crew – made up of a woman and two men – had taken place landed shortly before 10 a.m. local time in the desert of Inner Mongolia (north of China).
Shenzhou-13 return capsule successfully landedsaid state broadcaster CCTV.
Live CCTV footage showed the capsule landing in a cloud of dust. Ground crews, who had stood clear of the landing site, rushed in helicopters to reach the capsule.
Applauded by the ground crew, the astronauts took turns saying they felt
The crew was made up of three army pilots: commander Zhai Zhigang (55), his colleague Wang Yaping (42) – who became the first Chinese to carry out a spacewalk in November – and the youngest Ye Guangfu (41 years old), whose first spaceflight it was.
Zhai Zhigang exited the capsule first, about 45 minutes after landing.
The former fighter pilot, who performed China’s first spacewalk in 2008, waved to the cameras, smiling, as he was hoisted up by ground crew before being bundled up in a blanket.
I am proud of our heroic countryhe told CCTV.
With 183 days in space, the crew smashes the previous national record for a stay in space, which was 92 days and was set in 2021 during the previous manned mission, Shenzhou-12.
The Chinese space station in full development
The goal [avec Shenzhou-13] was not in itself to establish a record but to develop the skills necessary for a permanent occupation of the stationChina’s ultimate goal, noted Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in the United States.
Named in Chinese Tiangong (
celestial palace) but also known by its English acronym CSS (for
chinese space station in French), it should be completed by the end of 2022.
Similar in size to the former Russian-Soviet Mir station, its lifespan should be about fifteen years.
In six months, the crew carried out two spacewalks, continued construction of the station, hosted two Internet courses for Chinese schoolchildren, carried out experiments and refined their mastery of long-term stays.
For example, they improved their maintenance skills with spacewalks and manipulations of the robotic arm. of the station, detailed at AFP Chen Lan, analyst for the GoTaikonauts.com site, specializing in the Chinese space program.
Shenzhou-13 was not
not a significant breakthroughbut
the completion of the CSS later this year will be a very important eventhe pointed out.
Next stages of construction: the sending of a cargo ship in May then another manned mission, Shenzhou-14, which should be launched in June.
The last two space station modules are to be sent from July.
They will head into space from the Wenchang Launch Center, located on the tropical island of Hainan and which Chinese President Xi Jinping said on Thursday wants to make it a site.
world class .
From Shenzhou-14, theCSS should be permanently occupied.
Chinese success in space
For several decades, China has been investing billions of euros in its space program and sent its first astronaut into space in 2003. Since then, it has achieved some remarkable feats, especially in recent years.
At the beginning of 2019, it placed a machine on the far side of the Moon, a world first. In 2020, she brought back samples from the Moon and finalized Beidou, its satellite navigation system, a competitor to the American GPS.
In 2021, she landed a small robot on Mars and plans to send men to the Moon by 2030.
China has been barred from the International Space Station since 2011, when the United States banned NASA from engaging with the Asian country.