China’s Shenzhou-10 Crew Returns to Earth

by Nancy Atkinson on June 26, 2013

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Screenshot showing the Shenzou-10 capsule on the ground following a successful mission for China.

Screenshot showing the Shenzou-10 capsule on the ground following a successful mission for China.

China successfully completed its longest human space mission as the Shenzhou-10 spacecraft and its crew of two men and one woman returned safely to Earth. The return capsule landed via parachute at 8:07 am local time (0007 UTC) Wednesday, June 26, 2013 on the grasslands of north China’s Inner Mongolia region. The 15-day “Divine Vessel” mission is part of the Chinese space program’s objective of building a permanent space station by 2020.

In the video below, enthusiastic applause comes when the parachute deploys and at other milestones of the return. The crew was quickly greeted and a smiling Nie Haisheng, the commander of the mission, emerged from the capsule first, and was followed by female astronaut Wang Yaping, and crewmember Zhang Xiaoguang.

“At this moment what I most want to say is that space is our dream and our motherland is forever our home,” Nie said. “I wish our motherland to thrive even more and our people to become happier and happier. I thank the entire nation for their concern and support for us.”

During the mission, the Shenzou spacecraft docked with China’s orbiting space module Tiangong-1 in tests intended to prepare for the building of the space station. The crew also spoke via video to school children in China, showing how different objects behave in zero-G. The crew conducted several experiments and medical tests while in space. The official mission duration was 14 days 14 hours and 29 minutes.

This was China’s fifth manned space mission since 2003. China plans to launch the Tiangong-2 space lab around 2015, according to the official Chinese Xinhua news agency, quoting Wang Zhaoyao, director of China’s manned space program office. He said there are plans to put an experimental core module of a space station in orbit in 2018, with the manned space station itself being built around 2020.

Besides building a space station, China also hopes to send astronauts to the Moon.

Sources: Xinhua, Space Daily

About 

Nancy Atkinson is Universe Today's Senior Editor. She also is the host of the NASA Lunar Science Institute podcast and works with Astronomy Cast. Nancy is also a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.

Yepi Friv June 26, 2013 at 3:35 PM

It looks so strange. Can it work properly?

Aqua4U June 26, 2013 at 5:07 PM

There’s been very little coverage of this flight in ‘Western’ main stream media. Is this because the Chinese haven’t been chatting it up, or because Western media is downplaying the event? I suspect the latter…

delphinus100 June 26, 2013 at 10:51 PM

No, it’s because manned Earth orbital spaceflight just isn’t ‘news’ anymore, no matter who does it…

At least not as long as things go well, and it’s not the ‘first time’ for any particular country (and China is well past the point of novelty) or other entity. (It’ll be big news the first time SpaceX launches a crew, but after number three, it’ll be ‘Oh. That’s nice. What else is going on?’) Take a look at other current events. There’s plenty to get lost in.

When we get back to the Moon/reach Mars. it’ll happen there, too. We’ve seen it happen before. Were it not for ‘the problem.’ even Apollo 13 would have been ‘just another Moon flight.’

And this is not a bad thing. Do we not want cpaceflight to ultimately be as common and as much a part of the background of life as aviation is? If you continue to be impressed, you have to admit that you’re a space buff/geek (As is true for aviation, railroading, seafaring, etc. They all have their buffs.), most other people are not as interested in this stuff as yourself (something I realized when my age was in the single numbers), and dig for information (at sites like this, and many others…I only wish the Internet *was* there when I was a kid) on your own.

IVAN3MAN_AT_LARGE June 26, 2013 at 11:15 PM

They all have their buffs.), most other people are not as interested in this stuff as yourself [...].

Yeah, unfortunately these days people are more interested in the antics of stupid ‘celebrities‘ – like Kim Kardashian – than something that would actually benefit people individually!

Aqua4U June 27, 2013 at 12:45 AM

It is my hope that what appears on the surface to be largely hypnotized masses are instead manufactured numbers by advertising agencies and merchandisers in an effort to appease their marketing obligations. MOST of the people I know are not in the least bit interested in these machinations… They know OF them, but do not believe IN them!

Zoutsteen from Holland June 26, 2013 at 5:37 PM

Looks like the capsule entered the atmosphere at a bad angle

Aqua4U June 26, 2013 at 9:14 PM

How can you tell? Nearly identical to the Russian re-entry module, the burn marks appear to be ‘typical’…

Zoutsteen from Holland June 27, 2013 at 1:55 PM

check out animation for expected/optimum re-entry angle. Looks like the angle was 90 degree off mark. The top of the capsule was angled 30 towards entree vector instead of 60 away. Try imagine that happening to the shuttle with angle pitched 90 degree to low. I’ld call that a bad angle.
To avoid problems you would need a weighty heatshield on every inch of the Chinese capsule.

Aqua4U June 27, 2013 at 6:32 PM

Still… can’t tell from the animation what the final re-entry angle was. Russian capsules of a similar design have at times re-entered at too steep an angle and performed what is called a ballistic re-entry. The occupants made it safely back although they experienced very high Gee loads and landed far from the intended LZ. I forget which of the NASA’s astronauts experienced this, but there were a couple! Just goes to show how robust the Russian design is!

Zoutsteen from Holland June 27, 2013 at 10:02 PM

You don’t have to replay the youtube vid to guess the capsule angle at entree, Aqua. The still at the top is enough.
And with angle, i mean capsule angle, not entry angle.

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