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Orbiting Chinese Space Capsule Completes Mission

The Shenzhou 6 launch. Copyright AFP
by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) Apr 15, 2006
The orbiting capsule of China's Shenzhou VI spacecraft, which was launched into space six months ago, has completed its mission after orbiting 2,920 times, state media reported Saturday. The orbiting capsule was left in space, and remains there, 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 capsule remains in orbit.

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.

Source: Agence France-Presse

Editor's Note: Earlier reports that the orbiting capsule had returned to Earth were incorrectly reported by State Media on Saturday and subsequently reported by western news agencies. The module will eventually decay from orbit and burn up during reentry.

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China To Test Manned Moon Landing In 2017
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When can China realize manned moon landing? Ouyang Ziyuan, chief scientist of China's moon probing project and academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, indicated that at present, the United States and the European Space Agency plan to make a moon landing in 2018 and 2023 respectively, while China will not implement its manned moon landing test and joint lunar base construction with related countries until 2017.

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