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Orbiting Chinese space capsule returns to earth
BEIJING, April 15 (AFP) Apr 15, 2006
The orbiting capsule of China's Shenzhou VI spacecraft, which was launched into space six months ago, has returned to earth after orbiting 2,920 times, state media reported Saturday.

The orbiting capsule was left in space after China's second manned flight returned home, Xinhua news agency said.

Astronauts Fei Junlong and Nie Haisheng became instant celebrities after returning from the five-day mission in October.

Xinhua said the orbiting capsule successfully gathered scientific data during its 180-day mission that involved a series of tests and experiments.

The mission has laid a "solid foundation" for China's subsequent space engineering, such as its planned mission to the moon, Xinhua said.

China's next manned space flight, the third in its ambitious program, is scheduled to take place in 2008, state media reported last week.

Shenzhou V, China's first manned spacecraft, blasted off in October 2003, making China the third nation after the former Soviet Union and the United States to send a human into space.

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