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Last Updated: Monday, 22 January 2007, 13:04 GMT
Indian capsule returns from space
Indian space capsule launched on 10 January
The rocket carrying the capsule was launched on 10 January
India says it has successfully tested the technology which ensures the safe return of astronauts from space after an orbiting capsule returned to Earth.

The capsule splashed down in the Bay of Bengal off the east coast after 11 days orbiting the earth, the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) said.

Isro chief Madhavan Nair said it was a key step in India's plan to send an unmanned mission to the moon in 2008.

The test's success also paves the way for future manned missions, he said.

Crucial phases

An Indian-built rocket launched the 500kg satellite, Space Capsule Recovery Experiment, and three other satellites, from Sriharikota in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh on 10 January.

The coastguard was in the process of recovering the space capsule, Isro confirmed.

The BBC's Habib Beary in Bangalore says the re-entry and recovery phases of a spacecraft are essential for any manned mission to space.

With the success of the experiment India joined the select club of nations - the US, France, Russia, China and Japan - who have mastered the technology.

Last July India failed to launch its heaviest communications satellite and test-fire its longest-range nuclear-capable ballistic missile.

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