Shenzhou 12 astronauts Tang Hongbo, Liu Boming, and Nie Haisheng outside their landing capsule Friday. Credit: Xinhua
Three Chinese astronauts landed in the remote Gobi Desert of northwestern China Friday, returning to Earth after a three-month mission on the country’s new Tiangong space station, and ending a historic day in human spaceflight that set a new record with 14 people in low Earth orbit.
With the return of China’s Shenzhou 12 crew Friday, 11 people remained in orbit — seven on the International Space Station and four on a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft on the all-civilian Inspiration4 mission. The launch of Inspiration4 Wednesday night from Kennedy Space Center briefly brought the total number of humans in orbit 14.
The new record of 14 people in orbit is one more than the previous mark of 13, set on multiple occasions since 1995.
The Shenzhou 12 mission descended under parachute to the Dongfeng landing site in the Gobi Desert Friday. Touchdown occurred at 1:34 a.m. EDT (0534 GMT; 1:34 p.m. Beijing time), according to the China Manned Space Agency.
Astronauts Nie Haisheng, Liu Boming, and Tang Hongbo landed after 92 days in orbit, China’s longest human space mission to date. Shenzhou 12, ...