Three Chinese astronauts returned to earth on Friday (September 17) after a 90-day visit to an unfinished space station, marking the end of Shenzhou-12, the country’s first crewed mission since 2016.
In a small return capsule, the three men – Nie Haisheng, Liu Boming and Tang Hongbo – landed safely in the autonomous region of Inner Mongolia in the north of China at 1:34 p.m. (0534 GMT), state media reported.
“It feels really good to be back,” Tang said, before thanking his parents.
Shenzhou-12 was the first of four crewed missions planned for 2021-2022 as China assembles its first permanent space station. The process requires a total of 11 missions, including the launches of the station’s three modules.
The second crewed mission, Shenzhou-13, is planned for October, with the next batch of astronauts expected to stay at the station for six months. Ahead of that, China will send an automated cargo spacecraft carrying supplies needed by the next crew.