China’s manned spaceflight begins return journey to Earth
Beijing, Nov 17 (IANS) China’s manned spaceflight Shenzhou-11 began its return to the Earth on Thursday after separating from the Tiangong-2 space laboratory, where it had remained docked for the last one month.
The space capsule manned by astronauts Jing Haipeng and Chen Dong, disconnected from the Tiangong-2 at 4.41 a.m., and is scheduled to land on the Earth on Friday.
The Shenzhou-11 is expected to remain in space near the laboratory until it receives an order from the Beijing Aerospace Control Centre to re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere and land, Efe news reported.
Jing and Chen departed aboard the Shenzhou-11 from the launch pad in Jiuquan in the Gobi desert on October 17 and docked at the space lab two days later.
Since then the astronauts have been working and living in the Tiangong-2 that was launched in September, and where they conducted several scientific experiments and advanced preparations for the operation of a future Chinese space station, which is expected to be fully operational by 2022.
The Tiangong-2 will remain in its orbit, some 393 km from the Earth’s surface, until it docks with the Tianzhou-1, scheduled to be launched in April 2017.