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Chinese Astronauts of Shenzhou-15 return to Earth after six months in space

Having spent six months living and working in the China Space Station, the "CSS Expedition 4 crew," safely returned to the Dongfeng landing site.

Shenzhou 15 recovery

At 06:33 am on Sunday, June 4, 2023, Beijing time (22:33 UTC) on the 3rd, the return capsule of the Shenzhou -15 spacecraft, carrying taikonauts Fei Junlong, Deng Qingming, and Zhang Lu, landed in Dongfeng (coordinates 41°37'55″N, 100°05'04” E), in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, in northern China. The ground crew carried them out and seated them on chairs in front of the capsule. The three were in good physical condition, marking the successful completion of the mission, official media said. “We completed all the tasks and felt good after returning to our homeland,” said Fei Junlong, commander. Crew members spent 186 days in orbit aboard the TianGong space station. Junlong, Qingming, and Zhang worked on the complex composed of the TianHe main module, the WenTian and MengTian experiment modules, their transport ship, and the TianZhou cargo ship, orbiting the Earth with parameters of 390 km x 395 km with a period of 92.34 minutes, Inclination of 41.48 degrees.

Engineer-operator Deng Qingming, who got the chance to fly in space after 25 years of training, expressed his gratitude to the people of the country for their support and encouragement. “I always believe in the power of dreams and perseverance. Regardless of age, I feel happy that I was useful to the Motherland, ”he added. “Now I'm really excited. While on the space station, I often looked out the window, trying to find my homeland,” said engineer Zhang Lu.

SZ-15 infographics

"We will get our bodies in order as soon as possible, get back to training, and be ready for future spaceflights," Zhang added. The return capsule separated from the orbital compartment at 05:42, in accordance with flight instructions. After landing, the search team arrived at the landing site, where the doctors, after conducting a preliminary examination, made sure that the taikonauts were in good health. The launch of Shenzhou-15 was made on November 29, 2022. The crew, which is the oldest in China in terms of the average age of astronauts, successfully completed four spacewalks, a new Chinese record among all its crewed missions.

Three Chinese astronauts on board undocked from the TianGong space station on June 3, 2023, Before starting the return journey to Earth. The Shenzhou 15 crew handed over control of the station to the Shenzhou 16 crew on Friday, completing the second crew rotation from China.

Shenzhou 15 parachute descent

Shenzhou-15 crew members made the first crew rotation on a Chinese space station, marking the beginning of the ongoing occupation of the orbiting complex. The first crew change on a space station took place in 1985, when cosmonauts from the USSR spacecraft Soyuz T-13 and Soyuz T-14 made a partial crew change on the Salyut-7 station. Since then, Russians and Americans maintain a regime of alternating expeditions, nowadays focused on the international space station.

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