Astronauts return home safely after China’s longest space mission

Three Shenzhou-12 astronauts have completed their three-month space mission with their spaceship returned to Earth safely on Friday, according to the Xinhua state news agency.

The astronauts onboard-mission commander Major General Nie Haisheng, Major General Liu Boming and Senior Colonel Tang Hongbo-had been in space for 92 days, almost three times longer than the Shenzhou XI mission, which saw Jing Haipeng and Chen Dong spend 33 days in orbit.

Prior to their return, the astronauts had completed various works, such as setting the status of the combination of the core module and the Tianzhou-2 cargo craft, sorting and downloading experiment data, and clearing and transferring supplies kept in orbit, with support from sci-tech staff on the ground, the China Manned Space Agency said.

The three Chinese astronauts were sent into space onboard the Shenzhou-12 spaceship and entered Tianhe on June 17. The crew carried out extravehicular activities twice over the past 90 days.

In another development, the Tianzhou 3 cargo spacecraft and its carrier-a Long March 7 rocket-were moved on Thursday morning to a launch tower at the Wenchang Space Launch Center in Hainan province, the manned space agency said in a separate statement, noting the robotic spaceship will be dispatched to the Tiangong station in the near future.

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