China’s three astronauts successfully return to Earth after spending 90 days on the nation’s new space station

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A trio of Chinese astronauts returned to Earth on Friday after a 90-day stay aboard their nation's first space station – a visit that was three times longer than previous crew members.

Nie Haisheng, Liu Boming and Tang Hongbo landed in the Shenzhou-12 spaceship just after 1:30am ET after having undocked from the Tianhe module the previous day.

State broadcaster CCTV showed footage of the spacecraft parachuting to land in the Gobi Desert, where it was met by helicopters and off-road vehicles.

Minutes later, a crew of technicians began opening the hatch of the capsule, which appeared undamaged.

The three astronauts emerged about 30 minutes later and were seated in reclining chairs just outside the capsule to allow them time to readjust to Earth's gravity after three months of living in a weightless environment.

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