Shenzhou XII landing debuts new site

The reentry capsule of the Shenzhou XII mission lands at the Dongfeng Landing Site in the Inner Mongolia autonomous region on Fr…

The reentry capsule of the Shenzhou XII mission lands at the Dongfeng Landing Site in the Inner Mongolia autonomous region on Friday. REN JUNCHUAN/XINHUA

The successful completion of the Shenzhou XII mission on Friday means the Dongfeng Landing Site is likely to be prioritized over the Siziwang Banner Landing Site to receive returning Chinese astronauts in the future.

The return of the Shenzhou XII crew was the first time Chinese astronauts landed at Dongfeng as all of the nation's previous spaceflights ended at Siziwang. Both are in the Inner Mongolia autonomous region and the distance between them is about 900 kilometers.


Peng Huakang, technical supervisor of the recovery team sent by the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, said that Dongfeng was the backup landing place in previous crewed missions.

"In the past, there was a lot of undeveloped grassland in Siziwang, making it an ideal place for spacecraft to land. Besides, its location fits well with reentry trajectory plans for previous manned flights.

"However, with the socioeconomic development in Siziwang rapidly occupying nearby land in recent years and the local population continuing to expand, Siziwang is no longer suitable for receiving returning spacecraft,"Peng explained.

Meanwhile, Dongfeng has an outstanding advantage-it is closer to the Jiuquan center, which is in charge of the recovery of Chinese astronauts and their reentry capsules.

"The shorter distance between Dongfeng and the Jiuquan center allows us to maintain a standby search and recovery force at the site, and this is important because the construction and operation of the Tiangong space station will take more than 10 years, and our astronauts will spend long periods inside the craft. We must always be ready for possible emergencies in which astronauts will need to fly back at short notice," Peng said.

Bian Hancheng, deputy chief designer of the landing site system, said personnel at Dongfeng made comprehensive preparations and carried out several exercises for Shenzhou XII's landing.

Technical upgrades were also made to the site's search, navigation and communication facilities to boost its capability, Bian added.

This news comes from: China Daily

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