There are currently lots of things going on in the universe: Five stars start or return from their historic mission. France is in the ISS fever, China again sees another leap to the leading space rally.

After the longest manned space flight in China, the spacecraft “Shenzhou 11″ has landed again on Earth. The capsule with two astronauts hovered on a large parachute to the ground and landed in the northern China grassland in Inner Mongolia, as seen on live pictures of the state transmitter CCTV.

The astronauts Jing Haipeng – who celebrated his 50th birthday during the trip – and the 37-year-old Chen Dong broke into space on October 17th. They spent a large part of their 33-day trip in China’s new “Tiangong 2″ laboratory, where they conducted scientific experiments and tested the technologies needed for longer stays in space. CCTV showed pictures of how the astronauts opened the hatch shortly after landing, and recovery teams began medical tests.

China's Shenzhou 11 from record flight back 2

The flight of the “Magic Ship” was “a complete success,” said the commander of the space program, Jiang Youxia. The two astronauts had returned safely.

Own space station planned

The experiments on the mission were important prerequisites for the construction of a Chinese space station to be completed around the year 2022. If, as planned, the International Space Station (ISS) were to cease service in 2024, China would be the only nation with a permanent outpost in space.

At the beginning of November, China had first tested its new rocket “Long March 5″ for a particularly heavy load, with which the planned space station should be brought into earth orbit. But the space plans of the world’s second largest economy go even further: in 2021 China wants to land with a probe on Mars for the first time, and a manned landing on the moon is planned for the year 2024.

Great media spectacle in China

China’s sixth manned flight into space was a huge media spectacle in the People’s Republic. In a diary spread by the Xinhua news agency, Jing Haipeng and Chen Dong reported among other things about the attempt to build lettuce and experiment with silkworms. Also the two astronauts described their daily fitness program, for which there is a special treadmill and a trim bike in the room laboratory.

In the new laboratory, the two astronauts can live longer than in the previous model. Also “Tiangong 2″ has a higher load capacity and can be refilled. The astronauts should also have more comfortable – they can even receive television programs from the earth.

After the flight of the astronauts, the first cargo ship “Tianzhou 1″ (Celestial Ship) will follow in April 2017 to supply material and refuel the space laboratory. It would be China’s first unmanned, robot-driven supply.

China's Shenzhou 11 from record flight back

Three astronauts launched to the ISS

In Kazakhstan, a Soyuz rocket with Kazakhstan, Thomas Pesquet (France), Oleg Nowizki (Russia) and Peggy Whitson (USA) were removed from the Russian aerial cableway Baikonur in Kazakhstan. The trio is expected to research the space for about six months.

The flight to the outpost of mankind 400 kilometers above the earth takes two days according to plan. The capsule is supposed to be there in the night to Sunday. Thus, the 50th occupation on the ISS will be complete – the Russians are already working on the Russians Sergey Ryzhikov and Andrey Borissenko, as well as the American Robert Shane Kimbrough.

To pass the time, Pesquet has packed cards and dice. “I will do my best to entertain my colleagues,” he said. The charismatic 38-year-old is the tenth Frenchman in space. State Minister François Hollande adorned him as “our best ambassador in space”. Like the German Alexander Gerst, who was on the ISS in 2014, Pesquet is very active in social networks.