Shenzhou 9 capsule returns to Earth
Shenzhou 9 spacecraft carrying three Chinese crew members has returned to Earth following a 13-day mission.
Images of the capsule landing in Inner Mongolia at 10:05 local time (02:05 GMT) were shown live on television.
The astronauts carried out a successful manual docking with the Tiangong-1 laboratory module and performed a series of experiments while in space.
The mission is a key step towards China’s goal of building a space station by 2020.
The crew of the Shenzhou 9 capsule successfully carried out the country’s manual docking manoeuvre earlier in the week.
The delicate procedure, which involves bringing together two orbiting vessels travelling at thousands of miles an hour, was mastered by the USSR and US space teams in the 1960s.
The crew also carried out automatic docking of the two crafts during their mission.
The three astronauts returned to the Shenzhou 9 spacecraft on Thursday and performed a manual separation from the space laboratory.
They touched down in Inner Mongolia’s Siziwang county, with the capsule deploying a parachute to slow its approach.
All the astronauts were in good health, Xinhua news agency reported.
The Shenzhou-9 spacecraft was launched on 16 June.
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