29 Jun 2012

China's spacecraft returns to Earth

4:24 pm on 29 June 2012

China's Shenzhou 9 spacecraft has returned to Earth, after completing a manned docking test critical to its goal of building a space station by 2020.

The spacecraft touched down in China's north-western Inner Mongolia with its three-person crew, including the country's first woman astronaut Liu Yang.

Beijing has hailed the nearly two-week mission as a technical breakthrough for the country's growing space programme.

The launch and docking exercises with the experimental Tiangong 1 space lab module were carried live on state television.