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China Daily Website

Shenzhou-X to return to Earth on Wednesday

Updated: 2013-06-25 19:08

BEIJING - Chinese spacecraft Shenzhou-X with three astronauts onboard will return to the Earth around 8 am Wednesday after successfully conducting a fly-around and rendezvous test Tuesday with the target module Tiangong-1, the Beijing Aerospace Control Center said.

The successful fly-around and rendezvous was China's first ever such test.

Following a separation from the Tiangong-1 at 7:05 a.m. Beijing Time, the manned Shenzhou-X moved back to a point from where the spacecraft changed its orbit and flew around the target module.

Under the command of ground-based professionals, Shenzhou-X adjusted its flight gesture at a point behind Tiangong-1, and approached and rendezvoused with the target module.

Shenzhou-X's separation from the Tiangong-1 target module marked that the Tiangong-1 has completed its designed mission.

Earlier, the three astronauts, Nie Haisheng, Zhang Xiaoguang and Wang Yaping, shut door of the Tiangong-1 and moved back to the return capsule of the Shenzhou-X at around 5 am, after collecting experimental equipment and items inside the target module with the coordination of ground staff.

Verbally and using sign language, the three astronauts expressed thanks and respect to the ground staff for their contributions during the mission.

China's first space laboratory and target orbiter, Tiangong-1, has revolved Earth since it was sent to orbit on September 29, 2011.

Launched on June 11, Shenzhou-X docked with Tiangong-1 automatically and later manually. In the 12 days spent in Tiangong-1, astronauts conducted space medical experiments, technical tests and delivered a lecture to students about basic physics principles.

Tiangong-1 will now go to a higher orbit for long-term flight.

A total of six astronauts in the Shenzhou-IX and Shenzhou-X missions visited the space laboratory.