Three Chinese astronauts landed safely after completing that nation’s longest and most successful space mission and a crucial step on their path to build a space station by 2020.
AFP reports the mission was also historic as it marked the first time China had ever sent a woman into space.
The Shenzhou-9 spacecraft, which name means Divine Vessel, landed in a remote region of northern China, slowed by a parachute. The Chinese astronauts were kept inside for an hour while crews checked on their condition before emerging safely.
The craft carried out China’s first manual space docking, an extremely challenging move that is essential in the process of building a space station, something Beijing is really shooting for by the end of the decade. The move requires two vessels orbiting Earth at incredible speeds to come together very slowly to avoid destroying each other. Russia and the United States had previously accomplished the move.
WebNewsPro.com reported their triumphant return after a 13-day trip into space was broadcast across the country for all to see.
“This is another outstanding contribution by the Chinese nation to human exploration and the use of outer space,” Premier Wen Jiabao said in a prepared statement. “It has profound significance in enhancing China’s comprehensive power and inspiring the national spirit.”
The success of the mission by Chinese astronauts bring China into an exclusive club of space-faring nations.
“By demonstrating that they master (these procedures), China fully enters the club of big powers in human occupation (of space),” Isabelle Sourbes-Verger, an expect with France’s National Centre for Scientific Research told WebNewsPro.
Chinese astronauts had completed a space walk in 2008 and an unmanned docking mission in 2011.
(Photo courtesy of The Christian Science Monitor)