China's Shenzhou-10 astronauts return to Earth

June 26, 2013 at 12:40 AM
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BEIJING, June 26 (UPI) -- China's 15-day Shenzhou-10 manned space mission was termed a success as its three astronauts returned to Earth Wednesday, the country's space scientists said.

The re-entry module landed on a prairie in Inner Mongolia, the announcement said.

All three astronauts -- Commander Nie Haisheng and crew members Wang Yaping and Zhang Xiaoguang -- were in good physical condition, the official Xinhua News Agency reported. Wang was the only female member on the mission.

The mission took Chinese space scientists one step closer to their goal of building a permanent manned space station by 2020, the report said.

Zhang Youxia, commander in chief of the country's manned space program, said the Shenzhou-10 mission was a "complete success."

During its mission, Shenzhou-10 docked with the orbiting space lab Tiangong-1 twice, once through automatic operation and the other manual, the report said. The astronauts spent 12 days in Tiangong-1, where they conducted space medical experiments, technical tests and delivered a lecture to students on Earth, the report said.

China's new leader, President Xi Jinping, in his video call to the astronauts during their mission, said, "The space dream is part of the dream to make China stronger."

Since its first manned space mission in 2003, China has sent 10 astronauts and six spacecraft into space, Xinhua said.

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