Welcome home, Shenzhou XI

By Ma Chi and Guo Kai | | Updated: 2016-11-18 12:58

Today, the Shenzhou XI spaceship will come back to the Earth after a monthlong mission in the space. Let's have a look at its return journey.


Welcome home, Shenzhou XI

Shenzhou XI manned spacecraft blasts off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in Northwest China on Oct 17, 2016. [Photo by Feng Yongbin/]

1. Cleaning the house

The preparatory work before leaving the Tiangong II space lab includes recovering experimental data, cleaning up the compartment and leaving Tiangong II in the right condition.

Some data of the experiments have been transmitted back to the Earth. The rest is saved on memory cards to be taken back to the Earth.

Vegetables grown in space, the silkworm cocoons, urine and saliva as well as microorganism samples will be brought back.

When the astronauts entered Tiangong II, they brought along many things including necessities and experimental items. Some items need to be put back to where they belong to.

They also have to sweep Tiangong II. Food waste, sanitary waste, and some trash created during in-orbit experiments, including batteries and electrodes, will be packed and placed in the orbital compartment. The trash will then crash into the atmosphere and be destroyed with the compartment.

Getting Tiangong II in the perfect condition before departure is similar to turning off the water and electricity before leaving the house for a long time.

Tiangong II will be used over the long-term and dock with space cargo ships. Astronauts have to make sure that electricity, water, gas and communications are set up properly.

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