Astronauts in good shape after return

From left: Liu Yang, Jing Haipeng and Liu Wang.

BEIJING - The three astronauts who went on the country's first manned space-docking mission last month said on Friday that they are in good health as they recuperate from their 13-day stay in space.

The trio made their first public appearance since returning to Earth on June 29. They have been under quarantine the last two weeks as they rested.

"They have adapted well to gravity on Earth. All physiological indicators are normal now," said Chen Shanguang, director of the Astronaut Center of China. "The weight they lost in space is being gained back. They are recovering well, as expected."

The three astronauts, including China's first female astronaut, Liu Yang, looked healthy in a meeting room of the astronauts' apartment building in a northern suburb of Beijing on Friday morning.

"We feel good... like how we felt before we took off," said Jing Haipeng, commander of the crew.

Earlier research showed that human beings in weightlessness usually suffer fluid redistribution and bone and muscle loss. They usually lose weight and suffer orthostatic intolerance, which means they get dizzy when they try to stand up from a lying posture after they return to Earth.

Chen said the three astronauts were asked to take a good rest, and were treated with massage and traditional Chinese medicines, among other things, to help them recover.

They will get further rest at a sanatorium in the second half of this month, Chen said, adding that observation of their health will continue for another three months.

But the three astronauts all said they cannot wait to rejoin their colleagues and start preparation for the next manned mission, which is scheduled for next year.

Liu, the female astronaut, said she looks forward to returning to work and has no intention of making up for lost time.

Earlier media reports said the 34-year-old had no time for shopping or watching movies after being recruited as a reserve astronaut in 2010.

"Like other young women my age, I also liked shopping or going out for movies before I became a reserve astronaut. But in the past two years, I found the busy life preparing for the space mission is also a kind of happiness," she said.

Many people wondered about how she felt in space.

"Every minute in space, I felt like a fish that swims in water freely. Everything floats and flies because of the weightlessness. Compared with the Earth, it seems that everything in space has got a life," she said, adding that the beautiful image of Earth from space also impressed her.

"I enjoyed working and living in space. It will be the most valued memory of my life," she said.

Astronauts also gave high praise to the domestically developed spacecraft and rocket carrier, and look forward to sharing experiences with astronauts from other countries in the future.

The Shenzhou IX mission was the country's first manual space docking between the spacecraft and the orbiting Tiangong-1 space lab module, which was launched last year and has a planned lifespan of two years.

It is also the first time that Chinese astronauts had stayed at their "home" in space - the orbiting Tiangong-1 space lab module.

The mission's success showed that China has mastered the space rendezvous and docking technology, which will be necessary for building a space station that the country plans for the year 2020.

So far, China's manned space program has conducted 10 missions, including four manned missions. Eight Chinese astronauts have been to space, including Jing, who is the first one who has been on two missions.

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