Three Chinese cosmonauts returned to earth on Sunday after spending six months aboard the Tiangong space station, the Chinese space agency quoted media as saying, calling their mission a "complete success".

The crew, which had been on board the Chinese space station since early June, landed at the Dongfeng site in Inner Mongolia (northern China) at 8:09 p.m. Beijing time (2:09 p.m. home), the agency said. space quoted by the official Xinhua agency.

According to medical personnel, the three astronauts, including a woman, are in good health.

Responsible for controlling the advance of the space station

The three astronauts of the Shenzhou-14 mission, mission commander Chen Dong, Liu Yang, China's first female astronaut, and Cai Xuzhe, had been tasked with overseeing the final phases of construction of the space station, the jewel of the ambitious China's space program.

The last module of the space station under construction had docked at the end of October, a crucial step before the completion of the assembly of the station scheduled for the end of the year.

"I am honored to witness the formation of the basic configuration of our space station," said Chen, an air force pilot who became the first Chinese astronaut to stay in orbit for more than 200 days, according to Xinhua.

The space station will operate for ten years

The crew handed over to the three astronauts of the Shenzhou-15 mission, who had arrived at the Tiangong station at the end of November.

It was the first in-orbit crew transfer by Chinese astronauts.

China was barred from the International Space Station (ISS) in 2011 when the United States banned NASA from partnering with Beijing.

When completed, the Tiangong space station is expected to weigh 90 tons - about a quarter of the ISS - and be similar in size to the former Russian-Soviet Mir station.

The Tiangong space station (Heavenly Palace), also known by its acronym CSS (for

Chinese space station

in English), will operate for ten years and will host various experiments in near-zero gravity.


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