China's Shenzhou-9 spacecraft returned to Earth successfully at 9:53am on Friday as scheduled with its three crew members following a 13-day mission, landing well and firmly in the main landing field in the Inner Mongolia.
The astronauts carried out a successful manual docking with the Tiangong-1 laboratory module and performed a series of experiments while in space.
The vast grassland of Inner Mongolia, which has greeted all previous missions, is again harboring the Shenzhou-9, with a fine and serene day.
This is a key step towards China's more splendid space mission in the decade to come.
Bid farewell to Tiangong-1
Liu Yang, the first Chinese woman in space, tied a red Chinese knot to the inside of the space module Tiangong-1, before she and the other two fellow astronauts tucking back to the ShenZhou-9 at 6am Beijing Time on Thursday.
The Shenzhou-9 manned spacecraft with three astronauts aboard will return to Earth around 10am Beijing Time on Friday after a nearly two-week mission that included the country’s first manual docking in orbit.
A manual operation successfully separated the Shenzhou-9 spacecraft and the Tiangong-1 lab module Thursday morning.
It was the first time for China's spacecraft and target module to be manually disjoined.
Liu Wang, one of the astronauts, conducted the operation to separate Shenzhou-9 and the orbiting Tiangong-1. He will continue to manually operate and direct the spacecraft to a safe distance from the lab module.
During their stay in the Tiangong-1, all experiments and tests were finished as scheduled and produced valuable data. And all data and samples have been moved to the return capsule of the spacecraft.
The Tiangong-1 will return to its previous orbit and wait for another spacecraft.
The lab module is designed to operate for two years and host six docking procedures. It has been operating for 272 days and undergone four docking procedures with Shenzhou-8 and Shenzhou-9 spaceships, to date.
The module is viewed as the milestone in Chinese spaceflight history in an effort to build a space station by the end of the decade.
The Shenzhou-9 spacecraft will land by parachute in the northern Chinese region of Inner Mongolia, which has been used for all previous missions, and forecasters say the weather will be suitable.
Admittedly, the three valiant astronauts are making history. They will be remembered in the progress of the Chinese space program, and their names resonating in the hearts of Chinese people. They are: Liu Yang, the first woman in space; Jing Haipeng, team leader who has finished two space flights, and Liu Wang, who performed the manual docking.
Wish them a safe return !