Three Chinese astronauts on Friday safely returned to earth on early Friday, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said.
“The return capsule of the Shenzhou 12 manned spaceship touched the ground at the Dongfeng site in Inner Mongolia, safe and sound,” Hua Chunying, the ministry’s spokeswoman, said on Twitter.
In June this year, China launched the Shenzhou-12 manned spacecraft from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the Gobi Desert in the southwest Gansu province.
The astronauts on board – Nie Haisheng, Liu Boming, and Tang Hongbo – spent three months on the Tiangong station, where they carried out tasks including, repair and maintenance, appliance switch, and scientific operation of payloads during their stay.
This was the first time in nearly five years that China sent astronauts into space. This was the first crewed flight mission and third leg of the country’s 11 space launch missions of the intensive space station construction phase.
In April, China launched the core module for the T-shaped space station as it eyes its completion by next year.
The Chinese President Xi Jinping also spoke to the astronauts while they were in the space from where the trio also gave virtual lessons to a selected group of students back home.
The space station has a designed lifespan of 10 years, but appropriate maintenance and repairs could extend its life to more than 15 years.