October 31st, 2023
The fifth long-duration crew mission to China’s Tiangong space station has concluded after the three-person Shenzhou-16 landed in China following a 154-day stay aboard the outpost.
Returning to Earth were Jing Haipeng, Zhu Yangzhu and Gui Haichao. The Shenzhou-16 capsule parachuted to the ground, touching down at about 8:12 p.m. EDT Oct. 30 (00:12 UTC / 8:12 a.m. Beijing time Oct. 31) just north of the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in China’s Gobi Desert.
Shenzhou-16 undocked from the Tiangong space station several hours earlier at 8:37 a.m. EDT (12:37 UTC). The trio was replaced by the three person Shenzhou-17 crew, which launched to the outpost last week and will remain there until May 2024.
This was the completion of the fifth long-duration spaceflight to Tiangong since 2021 and the 11th human spaceflight conducted by China since 2003.
This was the fourth spaceflight for Jing and the first for the other two. Additionally, Gui was the first Chinese civilian (not a member of the military) to fly in space. He is a professor at Beihang University.
During the course of their five-month mission, the crew conducted 70 science experiments and performed maintenance on the outpost, including one nearly eight-hour spacewalk, which was performed July 20 by Jing and Zhu. Gui also delivered a lecture from the outpost.
Video courtesy of SciNews
Derek Richardson has a degree in mass media, with an emphasis in contemporary journalism, from Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas. While at Washburn, he was the managing editor of the student run newspaper, the Washburn Review. He also has a website about human spaceflight called Orbital Velocity. You can find him on twitter @TheSpaceWriter.