In this image taken off the screen at the Beijing Aerospace Control Center on Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016 and released by Xinhua News Agency, two Chinese astronauts Jing Haipeng, left and Chen Dong salute in the space lab Tiangong 2. (AP)
BEIJING, Nov 18: A pair of Chinese astronauts have returned from a month-long stay in the country's space station, China's sixth and longest crewed mission to date.
Veteran mission commander Jing Haipeng and first-time space traveler Chen Dong landed in their Shenzhou 11 return vehicle on the frozen steppes of Inner Mongolia on Friday afternoon.
They had spent 30 days aboard the Tiangong 2 station conducting experiments and testing equipment in preparation for the launching of the station's core module in 2018. A fully functioning, permanently crewed space station is on course to begin operation six years from now and slated to run for a decade.
The Tiangong 2 that launched on Sept. 15 is orbiting 393 kilometers (244 miles) above the earth.