BEIJING, June 29: China’s first woman astronaut and two other crewmembers emerged smiling from a capsule that returned safely to Earth on Friday from a 13-day mission to an orbiting module that is a prototype for a future space station.
The Shenzhou 9 parachuted to a landing on the grasslands of the country’s sprawling Inner Mongolia region at about 10am. China declared the first manned mission to the Tiangong 1 module — the space programme’s longest and most challenging yet — a major stride ahead for the country’s ambitious space programme.
About an hour later, mission commander and veteran astronaut Jing Haipeng, 45, emerged from the capsule, followed by crew mates Liu Wang, 43, and 33-year-old Liu Yang, China’s first woman astronaut.
The three, all experienced air force pilots, were lifted on to folding chairs and appeared in good health. They smiled, waved, chatted and saluted as state television ran live footage from the landing site.
“Tiangong 1, our home in space, was comfortable and pleasant. We’re very proud of our nation,” Liu Yang told national broadcaster CCTV. —AP