China honors Shenzhou-13 taikonauts with medals for space station mission
L-R: China's Shenzhou-13 astronauts Ye Guangfu, Zhai Zhigang and Wang Yaping. /CMSEO

L-R: China's Shenzhou-13 astronauts Ye Guangfu, Zhai Zhigang and Wang Yaping. /CMSEO

China awarded medals to the three Shenzhou-13 astronauts, or taikonauts, who had completed a historic six-month mission in the country's under-construction space station from October 2021 to April 2022.

The awards were given by the Communist Party of China Central Committee, the State Council and the Central Military Commission.

Zhai Zhigang, the mission commander, and Wang Yaping, the first female taikonaut in China's space station, were honored with second-class aerospace achievement medals, while Ye Guangfu received a third-class medal and the honorary title "heroic astronaut." 

The Shenzhou-13 mission was the second space mission for Zhai, who served as commander for the second time during the mission. He has performed extravehicular activities (EVAs) on three occasions, the most by any taikonaut so far. The flight was Wang's second space mission and Ye's first.

Read more: Profiles of China's Shenzhou-13 crew members

Launched on October 16, 2021, the Shenzhou-13 spaceship sent the trio to China's space station core module Tianhe, where they lived and worked for six months, the longest stay in space by taikonauts on a single mission.

During their stay in the space station, the crew verified key technologies, such as the in-orbit transposition of the spacecraft and robotic arm operation of heavy loads, accumulating valuable experience for the subsequent in-orbit assembly and construction of the space station.

Two EVAs were carried out by the crew. On November 7, 2021, Wang became the first female taikonaut to do a spacewalk.

Besides scientific missions, the crew also gave two live science lectures from the space station, during which they conducted various experiments and answered questions from students watching on Earth. 

After a fruitful trip, the three returned safely to Earth on April 16.

Read more: China's Shenzhou-13 taikonauts return after six months in orbit

(With input from Xinhua)

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