[QODLink]
Asia-Pacific
Chinese space mission returns to Earth
Three people, including country's first female astronaut, land safely after successfully carrying out mission.
Last Modified: 29 Jun 2012 14:11

Three astronauts have returned to Earth after achieving China's first manual docking in orbit, a milestone in the country's effort to build a space station by the end of the decade.

The return of the trio, including the country's first female astronaut, to a landing zone in a remote and sandy area of northern China was broadcast to a national audience on state television CCTV on Friday.

The return capsule of the Shenzhou-9 spacecraft, which lifted off on June 16, hit the ground at about 10:00am local time (02:00 GMT), after an approach slowed by a large parachute.

Rescue workers quickly surrounded and opened the capsule, which had turned on its side and looked charred on the outside.

All three astronauts were in good physical condition, the state run Xinhua news agency reported.

They would need to remain in the capsule for about 50 minutes to acclimatise, according to CCTV, which showed a medical worker in a white uniform going inside to talk with them.

The crew had successfully carried out China's first manual space docking with the orbiting Tiangong-1 module, a difficult move that is essential in the process of building a space station. Beijing aims to have built such a station by 2020.

The manoeuvre - completed by the Americans and Russians in the 1960s - requires two vessels orbiting Earth at thousands of kilometres per hour to come together very gently to avoid destroying each other.

It was the main goal of the mission, which was China's fourth manned trip to space.

The Shenzhou-9 team was headed by Jing Haipeng, a veteran astronaut on his third space mission.

Liu Wang carried out the manual docking and the third crew member was Liu Yang, the first woman China has sent into space. Yang has been hailed as a national heroine.

302

Source:
Agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Featured on Al Jazeera
More than one-quarter of Gaza's population has been displaced, causing a humanitarian crisis.
Ministers and MPs caught on camera sleeping through important speeches have sparked criticism that they are not working.
Muslim charities claim discrimination after major UK banks began closing their accounts.
Italy struggles to deal with growing flood of migrants willing to risk their lives to reach the nearest European shores.
Featured
People are starving in southern Somalia while relief efforts are blocked by government and rebel fighting.
Some scientists say authorities in favour of nuclear energy tend to deny the negative results of researchers.
Report on child sex abuse in British Asian community highlights issues that may affect the entire nation.
Taliban makes quick gains in Afghanistan with little opposition from Afghan army as US withdrawal begins.
Experts from Minamata, Japan check for signs of mercury illnesses in Ontario, Canada.
join our mailing list