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China's President Talks to Tiangong-1 Crew, Still No Official Word on Landing

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 24-Jun-2013
Updated: 25-Jun-2013 12:12 PM

China's President Xi Jinping spoke with the three Shenzhou-10 astronauts today as they orbited Earth in the Tiangong-1 space station.   China still has not announced when the trio will return to Earth, but the expectation is that it will be in a day or two.

President Xi told the crew via videoconference that "The space dream is part of the dream to make China stronger. With the development of space programs, the Chinese people will take bigger strides to explore further in space."   China has been saying for several years that its next goal in human spaceflight is a 60-ton space station by 2020.  Xi did not mention that or any other specific goal today.

Chinese President Xi speaking to Shenzhou-10 crew June 24, 2013. 
Photo Credit:  China Daily (http://usa.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2013-06/25/content_16653623.htm)

Maj. Gen. Nie Haisheng, Col. Zhang Xiaoguang and Maj. Wang Yaping were launched on June 11 on what China said would be a 15-day mission.  They docked with Tiangong-1, a small (8.6 metric ton) space station, on June 13 and conducted a manual undocking/re-docking exercise yesterday and then reentered the space station.

China still has not announced exactly when they will return.  Bob Christy at zarya.info has calculated a potential landing time based on their current orbit, but it is only an estimate.


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