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Two Chinese astronauts safely back on earth after nation’s longest manned space mission

Two Chinese astronauts returned to earth this afternoon after a month-long stay aboard the Tiangong-2 space lab on the nation’s longest manned space mission.

A landing craft carrying Jing Haipeng, 50, and Chen Dong, 37, brought the duo back from orbit and touched down on grasslands of the Inner Mongolia autonomous region at about 2pm on Friday.

Helicopters, drones and a search team were in place and waiting for the landing craft to arrive, state-run Xinhua reported on Thursday.

After the gate of the craft was opened, medical staff would enter to conduct checks on the astronauts, the report said.

If the pair were in good condition, they would be transferred to a helicopter, where they would rest and readapt to the earth’s gravity.

The astronauts are expected to arrive in Beijing by plane later today.

The successful completion of the latest space mission takes China a step closer to its goal of building a fully functioning space station by 2022.

During the mission, the astronauts conducted dozens of scientific experiments and tested technologies related to running the planned space station.