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Last Updated: Monday, 17 October 2005, 01:10 GMT 02:10 UK
Chinese spacecraft back to Earth
Chinese astronaut Nie Haisheng gets out of the re-entry capsule

China's Shenzhou VI spacecraft has safely returned to Earth, after five days in orbit.

The craft, carrying two astronauts, landed at 0432 on Monday (2032 GMT on Sunday) in the remote grasslands of Inner Mongolia.

It is the second manned spaceflight for China - only the third country to successfully put a man into space.

China first sent up a manned mission in 2003, following the United States and Russia into space.

The capsule is reported to have landed by parachute only 1km (0.6 miles) from its target.

Yahuo Ye

The two astronauts enjoyed noodles, tea and chocolate before being taken by helicopter to a nearby military air base. "I can feel that lots of people are thinking about us," Nie Haisheng told a TV reporter.

"We're very grateful for all the love and concern from our motherland and its people."

The astronauts, who have already undergone a health check, said they were feeling well.

Astronauts Fei Junlong and Nie Haisheng began their journey on Wednesday.

Xinhua said on Sunday that their mission had "accomplished the planned experiments and accumulated valuable technical data" for China's manned space programme.

"We feel good, our work is going smoothly and our life is happy," Mr Fei was quoted as saying as the craft prepared for re-entry.

"We're grateful for the deep love and concern by all Chinese people, the Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan compatriots," said the second astronaut.

Before landing, Shenzhou VI deviated from its planned trajectory because of slight resistance from the Earth's atmosphere.

The adjustment, which was carried out by firing the craft's thrusters, altered the spacecraft's altitude by 800m (2,625ft), the People's Daily newspaper said.

Space experts say such adjustments are routine.

The current mission comes almost exactly two years after China's first manned spaceflight.

Beijing has attached great importance to its space programme, viewing it as a source of national pride and international prestige.

China hopes to set up a space station within five years and eventually it wants to put an astronaut on the Moon.

CHINA'S SHENZHOU SPACECRAFT
1. Forward orbital module - crew live and work in this section, which contains scientific equipment. In future missions, this module may remain in space as part of a Chinese space station
2. Re-entry capsule - contains seats for three crew
3. Propulsion module - contains spacecraft's power unit and liquid fuel rocket system
4. Solar panels - spacecraft carries two sets with a total area of 40 sq m, which generate an average 1.5kW of power




SEE ALSO:
Chinese press lauds space success
17 Oct 05 |  Asia-Pacific
China astronauts blast into space
12 Oct 05 |  Asia-Pacific
China's reach for the stars
11 Oct 05 |  Asia-Pacific
China's vision for new space age
08 Jul 04 |  Science/Nature
China puts its first man in space
15 Oct 03 |  Asia-Pacific


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