Saturday, June 30, 2012

China: Shenzhou 9 Returns to Earth

Shenzhou 9 (right) docked with Tiangong 1. China Space Agency art.

After completing several milestones in Chinese space exploration history, the 3-man crew returned to Earth yesterday, landing in Inner Mongolia. The manned spacecraft had docked under automatic controls on June 18. Liu Yang became the first Chinese Woman Taikonaut in their space program. On June 24, the crew boarded the Shenzhou 9 and undocked from the station. They re-docked with the station, performing the first manual docking in their program. On Friday June 29 they undocked for the last time and jettisoned their service and science modules, returning through the atmosphere in the crew module.

View from Tiangong 1 of Shenzhou 9 re-docking with the station on June 24. Credit: CCTV.

Back on Earth, Liu Yang is helped from the hatch of the tipped-over capsule. Credit: Xinhua News Agency.

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