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Chinese Astronauts Return to Earth Safely After Longest Manned Space Mission

Nov 22, 2016 08:06 AM EST

Chinese astronauts arrived safely back on Earth after finishing the country's longest-ever manned space mission, which, according to Zhang Youxia, commander-in-chief of China's manned space program, was a complete success.

Astronauts Jing Haipeng and Chen Dong took a month-long space mission aboard the Shenzhou 11 at the Tiangong 2, also known as the Heavenly Palace 2. The first space mission for 38-year-old Dong and the third time for 50-year-old veteran Jing Haipeng, the commander who also participated in the Shenzhou-7 and Shenzhou-9 missions.

In a report by Space Daily, Haipeng and Dong landed the 11 space capsule last Friday, November 18, at the expect site, the Central Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. Vice premier and member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, Zhang Gaoli immediately welcomed them and delivered message of congratulations 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.

China's Shenzhou-11 space mission is the country's sixth manned space flight. Launched on October 17 of this year, the spacecraft docked two days later at Tiangong-2, China's first space laboratory, where the Chinese astronauts lived for 30 days.

Aside from transporting personnel and materials, the two also did a series of aerospace medical experiments, space science experiments, and in-orbit maintenance. Some of their experiments included raising silkworms in space and bringing germinated seeds of flowering plant thale cress, in hopes of further understand farming and botanical advancement in space.

At a press conference, Huang Weifen, a deputy chief designer with the Astronaut Center of China, told the press, "The success of this mission demonstrates that China has acquired the capability to support long stays in space by astronauts."

China plans to build its own permanent manned space station by the year 2022. The Chinese space station initially designed to last for 10 years can house three up to six astronauts who can stay in space for up to a year.

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