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Jakarta, CNBC Indonesia – America used to be more advanced than China in the world of outer space. However, China sped up and managed to overtake the US via its own space station.

For the first time, China released a photo of the Tiangong space station which they are proud of. The crew of the Shenzhou 16 mission captured the photo while they were on their way back to Earth.


The images, taken with a high-quality camera, are the first to show the entire structure of the Tiangong space station since it arrived in orbit.

Before descent, the Shenzhou 16 team handed over control of the space station to the Shenzhou 17 crew, which arrived at Tiangong on October 26.

Three taikonauts (Chinese astronauts) consisting of commanders Jing Haipeng, Zhu Yangzhu and Gui Haichao then left Tiangong on October 30 with the Shenzhou 16 capsule and arrived back from low Earth orbit on the same day.

As they make their way towards Earth, the crew points their cameras at their former temporary home. The crew managed to capture views from the laboratory orbiting above Earth.

Located 340 to 450 kilometers above Earth, Tiangong’s first unit, known as Tianhe, arrived in low Earth orbit in 2021. Its first crew, Shenzhou 12, arrived at the space station on June 16, 2021.

The taikonauts spent 90 days on the station, three times longer than on previous missions.

The second and third space station units, Wentian and Mengtian, were launched in 2022 and 2023 respectively. This completed the mission of building a 55-meter-long station that weighs 77 tons and is about 20% larger than the International Space Station.

Since then, Tiangong, whose name means “Heavenly Palace”, has hosted many rotating crews. They consist of three taikonauts who have conducted a number of important science experiments, something CMSA hopes to maintain for at least a decade.

The crew of Tiangong 16, the fifth team to inhabit the space station, continues the scientific exploration carried out on the space station by carrying out spacewalks, growing vegetables and conducting live reports from space.

[Gambas:Video CNBC]

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