Chinese Astronauts Return to Earth

    Photo: Emily McGarvey BBC

    The Facts

    • On Sunday, three Chinese astronauts returned to Earth after six months aboard China’s new space station, the Tiangong, or "Heavenly Palace." China's space agency declared the mission a "complete success.”

    • Commander Chen Dong, and teammates Liu Yang and Cai Xuzhe, said they felt well after landing at the Dongfeng site in north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous region. Their mission was to oversee the final construction of the space station, which they completed in November.

    The Spin

    Pro-China narrative

    With the completion of Tiangong, Beijing's space program is now an equal player with the US, Russia, and Europe. In terms of scientific and commercial aspects, the addition of new players will only have a positive impact, given that competition inevitably speeds up innovation. This is a win for everyone.

    Anti-China narrative

    The more China prioritizes space, the more of a problem it becomes for US national security. Beijing's recent significant advances in space technology are alarming to the US and its allies because whoever leads in space sets the rules. Besides, China has teamed up with Russia for a slate of space missions and initiatives. This must be monitored.

    Nerd narrative

    There is a 20% chance that China will land the next person on the Moon, according to the Metaculus prediction community.

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